A Nantucket group is taking another swing at litigation against the offshore wind project Vineyard Wind.
ACK for Whales (ACK4WHALES), formerly called Nantucket Residents Against Turbines, filed an appeal on Sept. 23 with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First District to overturn a ruling that favored the offshore wind project.
“Absent an order from this court reversing the district court summary [judgment], the [Vineyard Wind] project, which is now in the inchoate stages of construction, will be permitted to continue, sending the highly endangered [North Atlantic right whale] careening further down the road to extinction,” the appeal reads.
The group originally filed a lawsuit against the Vineyard Wind project in 2021, alleging that federal agencies “did not comply with federal law when assessing, disclosing, and mitigating environmental effects of the Vineyard Wind 1 project.” The suit named the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management [BOEM], the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service [NMFS], U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, and U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.
In particular, ACK4WHALES representatives say, they are concerned about the project’s potential impact on North Atlantic right whales, an endangered species with less than 350 individuals remaining in the wild.
Federal Judge Indira Talwani ruled against the group last May, concluding that they “failed to demonstrate that NMFS or BOEM violated the Endangered Species Act or the National Environmental Policy Act.” This ruling was the denial of the Nantucket group’s motion for summary judgment, and effectively halted the complaint.
Construction for Vineyard Wind began in early June, and the offshore wind farm is expected to start providing power by October.
The Nantucket group alleges in the appeal that the agencies violated laws like the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act by producing inadequate biological opinions and a final environmental impact statement, and didn’t adequately consider the risks for right whales. The appellants are asking the court to reverse the denied summary judgment request, and to set aside the biological opinion, final environmental impact statement, and record of decision for the Vineyard Wind project.
A Vineyard Wind representative was not immediately available for comment.