Coastal county and groups sue to overturn federal approval of New Jersey's 1st offshore wind farm

Cape May County and the groups filed a lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court against two federal agencies seeking to reverse their approval of the Ocean Wind I project.

Associated Press

Oct 20, 2023, 9:46 AM

Updated 273 days ago

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OCEAN CITY, N.J. (AP) — The government of New Jersey's southernmost county has joined with environmental and fishing industry groups in suing the federal government in a bid to overturn its approval of the state's first offshore wind energy farm.
Cape May County and the groups filed a lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court against two federal agencies — the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management — seeking to reverse their approval of the Ocean Wind I project.
Current plans call for construction of the project in waters off southern New Jersey by the Danish wind power company Orsted.
The plaintiffs allege that the two agencies did not follow the requirements of nearly a dozen federal laws in approving the project, which would be built off the coast of Atlantic City and Ocean City — two of the state's top tourism destinations. They also claim the agencies did not adequately consider potential harm to the environment and marine life from offshore wind projects.
“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 suit read.
Both agencies declined comment Wednesday.
Orsted declined comment on the lawsuit, but 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 lawsuit is the latest challenge — legal and otherwise — to the nascent offshore wind industry in the Northeast, which is also facing rising costs and supply chain concerns in addition to political and residential opposition to its projects.
In New Jersey alone, there have already been numerous lawsuits filed by and against Orsted over the project, as well as challenges by residents groups to various levels of federal and state approval of the project, which would built 98 wind turbines about 15 miles (24 kilometers) off the shoreline.
A tax break New Jersey approved in July for Orsted has heightened opposition to the Orsted proposal and offshore wind in general. Earlier this month the company put up a $100 million guarantee that it will build the project by Dec. 2025.
Proposed wind farms in other states have run into financial difficulties as well. Last week, New York regulators denied a request by companies for larger subsidies for offshore wind, solar and other projects.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include the Clean Ocean Action environmental group; the Garden State Seafood Association; the Greater Wildwood Hotel and Motel Association; Lamonica Fine Foods; Lund's Fisheries, and Surfside Seafood Products.


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