U.S. Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging Offshore Wind Farm Development Plans

©Cavan/AdobeStock
©Cavan/AdobeStock

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by New York and New Jersey residents challenging preliminary government plans for offshore wind farm development off the Atlantic coast.

U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich in Washington, D.C., said [last] Thursday that the U.S. Interior Department didn't need to conduct a thorough environmental analysis before selecting areas near the two states for future offshore wind farm development, since the selection didn’t on its own authorize developers to install turbines.

It was just the first step in a long process that will lead to in-depth studies down the line, including when specific construction plans are on the table, Friedrich said.

The federal government declined to comment Friday. Counsel for the residents and the offshore wind industry didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Community group Save Long Beach Island claimed in a lawsuit last year that Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management needed to thoroughly consider how construction on the over 800,000 acres chosen by the bureau in 2021 for future development would impact the environment. The residents said then that wind farms could ruin their oceanfront views and put endangered whales at risk.

The federal government's auction in February of last year for offshore wind development rights in the area attracted $4.37 billion in bids, setting a record.

Before bid winners can begin construction, their plans will need to be thoroughly analyzed for environmental impacts.

President Joe Biden has made expansion of offshore wind energy a cornerstone of his plans to tackle global warming and decarbonize the electricity grid by 2035. The White House has set a goal of building enough offshore wind energy generation to power 10 million homes by 2030.

The case is Save Long Beach Island et al. v. United States Department of the Interior, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, case No. 1:22-cv-00055.

For the residents: Nancie Marzulla of Marzulla Law and David Hubbard of Gatzke Dillon & Ballance

For the government: Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim and Sara Costello and Devon Lea Flanagan of the U.S. Department of Justice's Environment and Natural Resources Division

For the wind energy industry: Stacey Bosshardt, Ted Boling, Tom Jensen and Kerensa Gimre of Perkins Coie

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