Massachusetts Groups Appealing Cape Wind Lease Decision

The Town of Barnstable, the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership and the Massachusetts Fishermen’s Partnership are among the groups now appealing the recent federal decision to leave in place the federal lease for the long-embattled Cape Wind offshore wind project slated for Nantucket Sound, according to a new announcement from the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound.

In September, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) rubber-stamped Cape Wind’s lease to 46 square miles of Nantucket Sound for the offshore wind project. The lease, as it currently stands, is valid through the year 2041. Cape Wind also recently requested a two-year extension of the lease.

The new notice of appeal was filed on Nov. 21 to the Interior Board of Land Appeals. The appeal will argue that Cape Wind should have been required to submit an entirely new environmental impact statement (EIS) reflecting new developments since the EIS was first issued in 2009 – not merely a “narrowly focused revision,” says the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. More significantly, the appeal will argue that BOEM failed to take into account a series of setbacks for Cape Wind that make it clear the project is no longer viable, the alliance claims.

Before its record of decision in September, BOEM released the final supplemental EIS (SEIS) for the wind farm. It was prepared in response to a 2016 remand order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and BOEM were not in compliance with the Endangered Species Act or the National Environmental Policy Act, respectively, when they issued a lease for Cape Wind’s proposed project.

Specifically, the court vacated BOEM’s 2009 final SEIS and claimed that the agency could not ensure that the seafloor would be able to support the wind turbines. In its final SEIS for Cape Wind, BOEM examined the available geological survey data, including the geotechnical data and reports submitted to BOEM since the 2009 final EIS, and any other relevant material that related to the adequacy of the seafloor to support wind turbines in the lease area.

“We are filing an appeal because this project is not viable; is too expensive; and is opposed by residents, businesses and municipal leaders across Massachusetts,” comments Audra Parker, president and CEO of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. “It is clear that Cape Wind has no intention of withdrawing from its efforts to build in our waters. Until they no longer hold a lease to the seabed, we have to remain vigilant and continue to fight to end it.”

Other entities signing on in support of the appeal include the Barnstable Clean Water Coalition, the Cape Cod Marine Trades Association, Hyannis Marina, the Barnstable Municipal Airport, Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce, the Hyannis Marina, the Wampanoag Tribe of Gayhead-Aquinnah, and the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association. Numerous individuals have signed on to the appeal, as well, the alliance notes.

The 468 MW wind farm, which would comprise 130 Siemens turbines, was proposed by Cape Wind Associates LLC way back in November 2001.

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