RODA appeals Vineyard Wind 1 decision

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A map on the Vineyard Wind website shows the location of Vineyard Wind 1.

A group that represents the fishing industry filed a federal appeal of the Vineyard Wind 1 project Monday in the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals, alleging the process was too hasty and didn’t take their repeated concerns into account, according to a press release. The filing was confirmed through the court’s online database, though documents were not yet available.

Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA), which is made up of fishing industry associations and fishing companies, filed a petition for review of the Secretary of the Interior’s July 15, 2021, decision approving the Vineyard Wind 1 offshore wind energy project. “This action is the culmination of many years of conscientious participation by fisheries professionals, only to see their expertise and value summarily ignored by decisionmakers during the leasing process,” the release states. “The U.S. fishing industry harvests a renewable food source for the American people, and provides vital services to coastal communities and the nation; in 2019, U.S. commercial fishermen landed 9.3 billion pounds of seafood valued at $5.5 billion. U.S. fisheries are held to a high standard of sustainability, thanks to actions taken by regional fishery management councils, federal agencies, and the dedication of the fishing industry to persist while complying with ever-changing regulations designed to protect our oceans. However, they are under increasing pressure from unfair competition with foreign entities that are able to circumvent stringent environmental oversight.”

The press release cites the “hasty approval” by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) for the project.

Vineyard Wind 1 would be the country’s first commercial-scale offshore wind installation. The project “adds unacceptable risk to this sustainable industry without any effort to minimize unreasonable interference with traditional and well-managed seafood production and navigation,” the release states.

Andrew Doba, a spokesman for Vineyard Wind 1, said the company does not comment on pending litigation.

The wind farm will feature 62 GE Haliade-X turbines, and is expected to have an overall cost of approximately $2 billion. The 62 turbines will produce 800 megawatts of electricity. That electricity will be sent through two export cables buried under the Atlantic seafloor. 

“This is a precedent-setting decision by BOEM, and it is critical that they get it right so that future projects are following a trusted roadmap instead of a flawed and dangerous example,” said Anne Hawkins, executive director of RODA. “Unfortunately, this lawsuit is the only recourse fishermen have to ensure the fishing communities’ concerns are addressed.” 

The fishing industry has repeatedly expressed concerns about the project. “The project design approved by BOEM would endanger fishermen by placing turbines too close together for fishing vessels to safely navigate in inclement weather or heavy seas,” the release states. “Based on their understanding of the connectivity of marine systems, fishermen have also repeatedly requested a cumulative impact assessment of offshore wind development to fish and protected resources. Unfortunately, BOEM has not taken a holistic approach to address the cumulative impact of offshore wind on the ocean ecosystem and shoreside communities. It is impossible to effectively plan a new ocean industry without such an analysis, especially one with such a large environmental footprint.”

The Vineyard Wind project review, which had been put on hold in the final days of the Trump administration, got a jump-start when President Joe Biden took over. RODA takes issue with that process.

“The federal government must provide prudent and unbiased oversight in energy policy, carefully balancing multiple public interests,” the release states. “Instead, BOEM has failed to sincerely consider any mitigation measures beyond those voluntarily suggested by the investment banks and multinational energy giants to which it is leasing federal lands and waters.”

RODA is also calling on the federal government to consider climate change and the impact it will have on the fishing industry.

10 COMMENTS

  1. We are talking about 118 square miles of ocean with towers spaced a mile apart.
    If your boat is too big to “fish” in that environment, go somewhere else and let smaller boats fish in there.
    It’s a big ocean.

      • Albert– who the fence gave the ocean to the fishermen ?
        “Fisherman “own it ?????
        I occasionally fish — So I own it also .
        Your comment is beyond ridiculous—
        And just for the record– Vineyard wind actually DOES “own” the 118 square miles of seabed they are putting this on. Show me where any random “fisherman” have a lease with the federal government to actually be there.
        And maybe, just maybe, some women might be allowed to fish in federal waters.

  2. Hopefully the fishing industry with the proven record of supplying thousands of jobs, on land or ocean, and billions of dollars constantly,for hundreds of years,even when the wind blows or not, to the Southern New England economy, will help make this wind farm fail. Wind mills belong on land if anywhere. You don’t need a weatherman to see which way the wind really blows.

    • Donald — I couldn’t agree with you more that windmills should be on land.
      There are a handful of wind turbines on land in this area.
      Every one has faced some serious nimby opposition.
      Anything on land nearing the scale of this project would be shot down before the ink was dry on the proposal.
      The former president of the U.S claims they cause cancer– and a lot of people believe him.
      When they put a few up in Falmouth, people claimed they were getting sick from them, and they are now not operating.
      When Cape wind tried to build in relatively shallow water, there was fierce opposition —
      Now they are well offshore, and still there is opposition.
      There are 5 turbines off of Block island.
      No one , and for that matter, no whales have run into them.
      There are fish in the water there.
      There are approximately 700 towers off the coast of Denmark. Some have been there since the 90’s. Not a single ship has run into a single one of them… There are fish in the area..
      The towers themselves actually attract sea life. If fishing boats with nets so large can’t navigate in the mile wide spacing, Then they should go somewhere else and give the fish a little breathing room. I personally think they should close the entire area to fishing , run cables between the towers and designate it a aquaculture farm.
      We would get a lot more yield out of that area from that than we get from current practices..

  3. Don your comments show everyone how little you know about marine environments and what little respect you have towards the ocean.. For example the whales showing up this summer alone in the designated windfarm area. speaks magnitudes to how much this area is thriving, Whales consume alot of food or they would not be there….RODA is holding Vineyard1 accountable and BOEM for there careless actions and disregard for the ocean, it makes no sense to disregard a viable resource for one that could greatly Impact the ocean, solar on rooftops a much better solution. Bill Gates also has some great ideas and They don’t involve wind.

    • I believe your opinion of me is incorrect. I’ve lived on MV since 1954 and love the marine environment and have worked for local commercial and pleasure small boat people for many years. I have seen the water quality decline of the local waters, salt and fresh, for many years. I doubt if any have improved. I bet you know less.

  4. The fishing industry, both commercial and sport fishing, are subject to the many weather conditions that make the ocean a dangerous place even in the best of times. Storms, fog banks and so on, can complicate and confuse those folks at sea. Why put obstacles in the way that could possibly endanger those at sea??? On a calm day a mile between wind mills is not a big deal, but imperfect weather conditions, no matter how infrequent, can leave lives in peril! Better to build windmills on land, or, use solar energy where windmills aren’t applicable, than to risk injury, death, and/or destruction of vessels. ( Just for the record, I will always side with the fishing industry. The work is hard and lively-hoods are not guaranteed).

  5. The problems associated with offshore and land-based wind turbines involve more than disruption of offshore fisheries and the land-based equivalent, NIMBY. An overlooked problem is the disposal of expired or high-time wind turbine blades. It has become a matter of serious concern that wind turbine blades are suffering a higher rate of blade erosion than was envisioned. When wind farms are placed offshore over the horizon, blades can simply be disposed at sea. As the generators suffer failures, the gearboxes often suffer catastrophic failures as can be viewed via the Internet.
    The placement of the individual offshore wind turbine towers is stated as being at one-mile intervals. There are other concerns beyond those of fishermen who bring us the ocean’s bounty. The placement of Vineyard Wind 1 and similar wind farms planned in the waters of other states should be of concern for safe navigation for commercial shipping. Larger commercial vessels require a lot of sea room to stop or maneuver especially in adverse weather conditions. As an example, Vineyard Wind is close to the Ambrose Channel leading to the ports of the New York area. The large tankers and container ships need miles to come to a halt or veer off from an obstruction ahead of them. The hazards are multiplied in cases of equipment casualties to navigation, steering, and propulsion. The human factor in groundings and collisions should be remembered — Remember the Argo Merchant and Andrea Doria/Stockholm.

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