Environmental Coalition Files Suit Against Cape Wind

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By: Michael C. Bailey
Published: 07/09/10

Environmental organizations and private citizens have teamed up to file a lawsuit in an effort to block the construction of the Cape Cod Wind Farm.

A coalition of six environmental groups and three private citizens last week filed suit in federal court, claiming that federal agencies involved with the wind farm permitting process violated the Endangered Species Act and other environmental laws by approving the project.

“We will not stand by while our treasured public ocean waters and lands are marred forever by private industry,” said Audra Parker, president and CEO of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, one of the plaintiffs in the suit.

The other plaintiffs are: the national Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the Connecticut-based Cetacean Society International, the Cape Cod-based Three Bays Preservation, the Lower Laguna Madre Foundation of Texas, Californians for Renewable Energy, and citizens Martha Powers of Yarmouth, Barbara Durkin of Northborough, and Cindy Lowry of Maine.

The Alliance, which is involved with a number of lawsuits underway against Cape Wind Associates, claims that throughout the review process there has been a “pattern of lax environmental and safety review, and the desire to advance energy development at any cost.”

Notably, one of the claims in the lawsuit -- that federal agencies failed to collect sufficient data on the turbines’ impact on migratory birds and require adequate protections for endangers species – stands in contrast to a recent endorsement of the project by the Massachusetts Audubon Society.

Citing nearly a decade of independent research conducted on the project, Mass Audubon concluded that the wind farm would not pose “an ecologically significant threat to the birds and associated marine habitat of Horseshoe Shoal and Nantucket Sound.”

In a press release, Mass Audubon stated, “As an important component of our support for responsible development of clean, renewable energy and to reduce the worst effects of climate change, we support this project.”

Mass Audubon’s position is based on its review of nine years of data collected by Cape Wind and various state and federal agencies, as well as by MassAudubon staff. The organization noted that about five years into the project, it issued a challenge to developers Cape Wind Associates to fill in key data gaps and outline steps to mitigate the facility’s impact on bird life in the area.

“Mass Audubon indicated that we would support Cape Wind if our challenge was met. After nearly a decade of independent research and review, Mass Audubon has concluded that the key conditions of the challenge have been satisfied,” the statement read.

The full MassAudubon report may be viewed online at www.massaudubon.org/PDF/capewind/cape_wind_position_20100624.pdf

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