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Lawsuits & Litigation

New Jersey County Sues to Stop Federal Offshore Wind Farm Project

— October 18, 2023

In its complaint, the County of Cape May claims that the federally-sanctioned project will have no impact whatsoever on climate change.

A New Jersey county has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the recent approval of a large wind farm off the Garden State’s southern coast, claiming that turbines and long-term construction could harm the environment and kill endangered wildlife.

According to Reuters, the lawsuit was filed on behalf of the County of Cape May and several local tourism and fishing business groups. It names the U.S. Department of the Interior as a defendant and seeks an injunction against the Ocean Wind project, which is being led by Denmark-based energy company Orsted.

“As we’ve said many times, we spent the better part of two years trying to negotiate with Orsted to redesign this project in a way that would cause less damage to the environment and less damage to our tourism and fisheries interest,” Cape May County Board of Commissioners Director Len Desiderio said. “Our reasonable proposals fell on deaf ears as state and federal regulators rubber-stamped permits to rush the Ocean Wind 1 project to approval.”

“We believe the federal permitting process was fatally flawed, and we have assembled a great legal team to pursue these issues in the federal courts,” Desiderio told FOX News. “There is far too much at stake to do nothing. This suit brings together important stakeholders in Cape May County willing to fight to protect our economy, our environment, and our future.”

Attorneys for the county and its co-defendants say that the federal government has been too keen to approve projects like Ocean Wind 1, often failing to conduct necessary economic and environmental impact studies.

Image via Brian Turner/Flickr. (CCA-BY-2.0).

The lawsuit asks that the court stay Orsted’s permits and compel agencies to “fix the flawed processes that were utilized t4o ignore important environmental, marine species, economic and historic resource protections.”

Michael Donohue, the county’s “special counsel for offshore wind,” emphasized that this litigation is nonpartisan and will not impede the state’s continuing effort to reduce emissions.

“Two things have been conclusively established so far,” Donohue said. “First, these are nonpartisan issues, with leading voices on both sides of the aisle in New Jersey and throughout the country now voicing the same concerns about the negative impacts of offshore wind projects that Cape May County has been raising for the past two years.”

“Second, constructing this project and all of the other proposed offshore wind projects, according to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, will have no positive impact on climate change or reducing global warming,” he said.

FOX News notes that the Ocean Wind 1 and Ocean Wind 2 projects would consist of an estimated 20 wind turbines spread across 161,000 acres in the Atlantic Ocean—many5 off the coast of Cape May County.

The turbines would, in many cases, be as close as nine miles to the coast, and would be visible from almost every beach in the area.

While the county’s commissioners have passed a unanimous resolution to oppose the Ocean Wind project, an Orsted spokesperson said that the company remains willing to reach a fair compromise with local governments.

“We are aware Cape May County has issued a resolution,” said Tom Suthard, Orsted’s New Jersey stakeholder relations manager. “The content of the resolution doesn’t change our willingness or desire to collaborate with local elected officials throughout the state.”

“Building upon discussions from the beginning stages of Ocean Wind 1’s development, Orsted will continue outreach with communities and county leaders,” he told FOX. “We are committed to delivering a project that advances New Jersey’s renewable energy goals while creating jobs and economic opportunities that further the state’s leadership position of offshore wind development.”


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