Federal Government Sued Over Wind Farm Project

A coastal county’s government in New Jersey is joining a federal lawsuit with groups from the fishing and environmental industry in their attempt to overturn approval of an offshore wind energy farm, which would be the first in the state.

On Monday, the groups and Cape May County sued both the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in U.S. District Court. The suit asks the court to reverse the agencies’ approval of a project called Ocean Wind I.

The plans calls for the project to be constructed in the ocean waters opposite southern New Jersey towns in Cape May County. Orsted, a wind power company from Denmark, has been hired to handle the project.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs argue that, in approving the project, the two federal agencies didn’t follow requirements set forth by almost one dozen different federal laws. The project is set to be completed off the coast of two of New Jersey’s top destinations for tourism – Ocean City and Atlantic City.

In addition, the plaintiffs allege in the suit that the agencies didn’t properly consider harm that the project could cause to marine life and the environment as a whole as a result of the projects.
As the groups and county government argue in their suit:

“To implement a massive new program to generate electrical energy by constructing thousands of turbine towers offshore … and laying hundreds of miles of high-tension electrical cables undersea, the United States has shortcut the statutory and regulatory requirements that were enacted to protect our nation’s environmental and natural resources, its industries and its people.”

The agencies declined to provide a comment to media outlets on Wednesday regarding the lawsuit.

Orsted declined to provide a direct comment about the lawsuit. However, the company said it “remains committed to collaboration with local communities, and will continue working to support New Jersey’s clean energy targets and economic development goals by bringing good-paying jobs and local investment to the Garden State.”

The plaintiffs in this particular suit include Surfside Seafood Products, Lund’s Fisheries, Lamonica Fine Foods, the Greater Wildwood Hotel and Motel Association, the Garden State Seafood Association, and the environmental group Clean Ocean Action.

This isn’t the only challenge, or lawsuit, that has been filed in the Garden State against Orsted about the wind project. Many different groups of residents have also filed challenges over the project’s approval to both the state and federal government.

If completed as approved, the project would construct 98 wind turbines along 15 miles off New Jersey’s southern coast.

One thing that ramped up opposition to the plan was a tax break that New Jersey approved for Orsted back in July. In early October, Orsted put a $100 million guarantee forward that the project will be built by December of 2025.

Other wind farms that have been proposed in other states have also run into difficulties financially. Regulators in New York just last week denied requests made by companies to receive larger subsidies for solar and wind projects that have been proposed to be built offshore.