The Vineyard Wind Project
The Vineyard Wind I Project (“the Project”) is an offshore wind energy project located on the Outer Continental Shelf more than 14 miles from the coasts of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island. The Project involves the construction and operation of 62 wind turbine generators that will have the combined capacity to generate approximately 800 megawatts of electricity. The Project is expected to supply renewable, virtually emissions-free energy to about 400,000 homes. This will further the objective stated in Executive Order 14008, “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad,” to increase renewable energy production on the Outer Continental Shelf “with the goal of doubling offshore wind by 2030 while ensuring robust protection for our lands, waters, and biodiversity and creating good jobs.”
Several federal agencies have been involved in environmental reviews and permitting for the Project, including the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (“BOEM”) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”). BOEM approved the Construction and Operations Plan for the Project pursuant to the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. BOEM also served as lead agency in preparing an Environmental Impact Statement concerning the project pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”). NMFS consulted with BOEM and issued a biological opinion concerning potential effects of the Project on threatened and endangered species pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) and also issued incidental harassment authorizations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act concerning potential Project impacts on marine mammals.
The Wildlife and Marine Resources Section is defending four pending cases challenging the Project, including Nantucket Residents Against Turbines v. United States Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. In this case, Plaintiffs — an environmental group and local residents — assert ESA and NEPA claims against BOEM and NMFS alleging that the Project will jeopardize the endangered North Atlantic right whale. On May 17, 2023, Judge Talwani of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts issued a 52-page memorandum opinion granting our motion for summary judgment on all claims.