Articles filed under Legal from Massachusetts
A U.S. fishing group on Monday sued the Biden administration over its approval of the huge Vineyard Wind offshore wind project off the East Coast, saying the government had failed to address industry concerns about its potential safety and environmental impacts.
Concerns about the fate of the right whale, whose population is dwindling, are not new. The downturn in the whale population is already happening without any wind farms being built, primarily because the whales are being hit by boats or becoming ensnared in fishing nets. Still, officials from 17 prominent environmental groups wrote a letter to the National Marine Fisheries Service in September 2020 raising concerns that regulators were failing to protect environmentally endangered mammals, including right whales, in their review of offshore wind projects. It’s unclear whether any changes were made in response to the letter; efforts to reach two of the signers were unsuccessful. Erica Fuller of the Conservation Law Foundation in Boston did not return calls over a two-day period.
The group, Nantucket Residents Against Turbines, says the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Marine Fisheries failed to ensure that Vineyard Wind would not jeopardize the survival of federally listed critically endangered species like the North Atlantic right whale. The suit also names Interior Secretary Debra Haaland and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. "The North Atlantic right whale is on the verge of extinction. However, one of its longtime safe havens – where there is ample food and protective areas for birthing and rearing young – is the area immediately south-southwest of Nantucket Island," the lawsuit reads.
Little is known about the impact offshore wind could have on wildlife. Scientists across the country agree we need to be monitoring its potential impacts, though it’s not consistently studied across the country. “I believe strongly in responsible development of offshore wind. I think it is a key to fighting climate change,” said Jessica Redfern, a senior scientist at the New England Aquarium. “What’s critically important is that it is responsibly developed and to have responsible development, we need to continue monitoring and understanding species numbers, understanding a species that are in the area, how long they’re there.”
Bob Vanasse, who heads the fishing advocacy group Saving Seafood, said Vineyard Wind and other projects proposed in the region could impact a range of significant fisheries, including squid, clams and scallops. “There are a number of groups in various fisheries who have raised concerns about the insufficiency of the planning and review effort,” he said Wednesday. “This group is far from alone in that.” Vineyard Wind also comes years after the infamous Cape Wind project, which failed after bitter litigation from another group that included Nantucket property owners.
“The construction of these turbines is set to take place in a nexus of activity of the North Atlantic right whale, a critically endangered baleen whale with a population of fewer than 400 specimens remaining in the world,” the group said in a statement Tuesday. The group also launched a website, ackrats.com, where it said, “We are concerned with the adverse impacts from the increased construction vessel traffic, pile driving, and operational noise on the critically endangered,” whales.
In deeper waters of the gulf, wind power will be achieved only with the use of floating turbines. The extensive anchoring and cabling that would be required means “lease areas will become de facto closures to fishing,” the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance wrote in an April 14 letter the governors of Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
According to the suit, Chin, a registered real estate broker, had Rosemary Victoria sell the house to Mojica and Grendon, but neither informed the couple that the turbines would likely be built, a violation of state regulations that require the disclosure of information that would influence prospective buyers. “Angela S. Chin and Rosemary Victoria violated this regulation by not disclosing to the plaintiffs that four, massive, wind turbines would soon be constructed on the adjacent lot,” Henchy wrote.
This should be time to party at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. After all, the agency’s underused marine terminal in New Bedford is finally profitable, and a big tenant is on its way. The saga of the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal took an unfavorable turn against the state on Monday when a jury in Suffolk Superior Court ruled that contractors that built the port are owed at least $20 million for unpaid work.
The Massachusetts Appeals Court rejected a motion to intervene in the court order to shut down Falmouth’s two wind turbines as a nuisance, upholding Barnstable Superior Court Judge Cornelius J. Moriarty II’s decision. “We see no reason to disturb the judge’s ruling,” Associate Justices Peter J. Rubin, Gabrielle R. Wolohojian, and Amy L. Blake wrote in their decision, noting the history of the litigation.
Barnstable Superior Court Judge Cornelius Moriarty had deemed the turbines at the town's wastewater treatment facility a nuisance and ordered that they be permanently shut down in June 2017. The selectmen voted not to appeal the decision. ...The Green Center then appealed Moriarty’s ruling to the Massachusetts Appeals Court but again failed to gain any traction, with a panel of three judges upholding Moriarty’s decision.
The proximity of the men’s grant areas means their oysters, which total about 3,250,000, could be smothered by sand and silt that’s stirred up when Vineyard Wind lays the cable, the letter contends. Although Vineyard Wind officials have met with the shellfishermen multiple times and proposed solutions that include installing silt curtains while work is conducted, there’s no evidence those solutions will work, according to the letter.
A resident filed an enforcement action request (June 2018) alleging Wind 2 violates Chapter 240 Section 3B of the Falmouth Zoning Bylaw (the local provision copied from M.G.L. c. 40A, s. 7).
In his response, Mr. Palmer said this regulation does not apply to Wind 2 because of when it was installed. The letter indicates Wind 2 was issued a permit and became operational in February 2012. “The building permit and the date of initial operation are both beyond the six year enforcement provision of G.L. c. 40A, s. 7 for structures erected in reliance upon a building permit,” Mr. Palmer wrote.
An eight-year legal battle between the town and residents who live near two controversial wind turbines at the municipal wastewater treatment plant off Blacksmith Shop Road has been brought to a close with the recent settlement of three remaining court cases involving monetary damages.
Judge Cornelius Moriarty has denied a motion to intervene in the case filed recently by the Green Center, a nonprofit educational institute in Hatchville that supports ecological projects, and a group of Falmouth residents. They were looking for the judge to alter his ruling and come up with a more moderate solution to the problem. The motion filed by the Green Center and denied by Judge Moriarty can be accessed by clicking the document icon on this page.
A Hatchville-based group, seeking reconsideration of a court judgment that permanently shut down two town-owned wind turbines, does not have the standing needed to file a motion to intervene and has made its move too late, according to an attorney representing a neighbor of one of the turbines.
Last week, The Green Center and a dozen citizens filed the motion asking to be allowed to intervene, even though the trial is over and a ruling has already been issued. In documents, they argue taxpayer interests had not been adequately protected by the town.
The motion argues that no evidence was presented during or after the trial regarding potential remedies available to mitigate the noise from the turbines. In addition, it states that no consideration was given to the “enormous costs associated with ceasing operation of the turbines.”
The Falmouth Board of Selectmen voted Monday night not to appeal a judge’s decision ordering the shutdown of the town’s two massive wind turbines. “It’s time to put the matter behind us and move forward,” board Chairwoman Susan Moran said.