Endangered Species Lawsuit Challenges Cape Wind Project

The massive proposed Cape Wind turbine farm project, recently approved for offshore deployment in the Cape Code, Massachusetts area by the U.S. Department of the Interior, hit a major roadblock today as a coalition of groups filed a lawsuit to stop the project dead in its tracks. The groups, which include Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), are saying that the proposed development may have violated several federal laws including the Endangered Species Act.

PEER, among others, is arguing that “required scientific studies were not done and that mandated protective measures were ignored in approving the controversial 130-turbine project slated for Nantucket Sound, a principal bird migration corridor off the Massachusetts coast.” Issues raised by the suit include claimed refusals to adopt recommended protective measures for certain birds, such as shutting turbines down during peak migration periods; refusals to collect or submit acoustic, radar, infrared, or observational data on bird migration; and a failure to “prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement when new information came to light that a large aggregation of the highly imperiled North Atlantic Right Whale was present in the project area.”

University of Delaware

image via University of Delaware

The lawsuit is in part based upon a cited January 2010 Interior Inspector General report that the plaintiffs say “found that the agencies reviewing the project’s environmental impact study were unnecessarily rushed in their reviews because of the applicant’s desire to complete the environmental review prior to the exodus of the Bush Administration.” Also being called into issue are protests from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologists, who felt that the lack of data “made it impossible to adequately assess the project’s impacts on birds.”

“We are in this lawsuit because science was manipulated and suppressed for political reasons to which the Obama administration turned a blind eye,” stated PEER New England Director Kyla Bennett. “Condemning rare birds to extinction is not required for offshore wind development.”

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I am the editor-in-chief and founder for EarthTechling. This site is my desire to bring the world of green technology to consumers in a timely and informative matter. Prior to this my previous ventures have included a strong freelance writing career and time spent at Silicon Valley start ups.


  • Reply June 25, 2010

    Barbara Durkin

    Cape Wind represents the threat of extinction. Politics trumped Best Science in the Cape Wind NEPA enviornmental review. Mass Audubon was tapped by MMS to become a “Key Partner” in MMS review of Cape Wind because MMS could control the science provided by Mass Audubon. MMS directive was No harm to birds found to comply with the predetermined outcome of the Cape Wind review MMS. APPROVED!

    The condition of dutiful Mass Audubon’s “support” of Cape Wind spells “bias” in the Cape Wind ESA Section 7 review process, and in MMS review of Cape Wind. What’s the condition of Mass Audubon’s support for Cape Wind? An approximate $8 million dollar contract funded by Cape Wind to count birds killed by Cape Wind. MMS and Mass Audubon cooked the Cape Wind science to the end that Cape Wind was approved by Secretary Salazar.

    ‘The condition of Mass Audubon’s “support” for Cape Wind spells “b-i-a-s” in the project NEPA environmental and Section 7 ESA reviews.


    The federal government’s science is Best science by federal law.

    Dr. Fry as Chairman of the Federal Minerals Management Service Environmental Studies Advisory Committee is highly critical of Secretary Salazar’s approval of Cape Wind.


  • Reply June 28, 2010


    How can anyone call a 9 year review rushed?

    The law suit is all about big money politics, the view from water-front mansions, and a heavy dose of NIMBY. It is a disgrace that the opponents of this project will exploite any group or issue to hold on to what the have.

    1st it was the air-traffic controllers union claiming their radar would not work. Then the experts determined it could be fixed. Next it was birds and sea mammals, and the smearing of the Mass Audibon Society. Finally the Native Americans’s were used by the claim that the sound is actually and ancient indian burial grounds.

    Each time the courts have found for Cape Wind, but there is still big money and special interest groups out there that continue to find a new group to use as a front.

    Build the turbines and burn less coal…

  • Reply July 21, 2010

    Barbara Durkin

    Clean Coal:

    I live 90 miles away from the Cape and islands’ as a plaintiff in the ESA lawsuit.

    Show me the evidence by experts that “determined” radar interference caused by wind turbines, a Homeland Security and Pentagon issue, “could be fixed”.

    The Native American were “used” by whom? Show me the evidence.

    Mass Audubon has smeared Mass Audubon by their own press releases.

    Mass Audubon is an MMS identified “Key Partner” in the Cape Wind NEPA environmental and permit review of Cape Wind. Thusly, they should remain objective while collecting and analyzing data, and commenting to regulators on the data. However, Mass Audubon conditions their “support” for Cape Wind on agency acceptance of Adaptive Management monitoring and mitigation by their 2006 “Challenge” press release:

    Adaptive Management monitoring and mitigation is handled by service contract by “monitors”.

    Mass Audubon:

    “MONITORING AND MITIGATION SHOULD BE FUNDED BY CAPE WIND with contributions from independent institutions and government agencies as appropriate…” [cut] read by link:


    And, on June 25, 2010 Mass Audubon announced they intend to perform Adaptive Management monitoring and mitigation for Cape Wind that they have reviewed in permitting phase.

    Mass Audubon clearly has a financial interest in the outcome of the Cape Wind permitting process, by their own words and press releases.

    Mass Audubon | What’s New!

    Mass Audubon “What’s New? (press release June 25, 2010 excerpt):

    Next Steps for Mass Audubon participation
    Mass Audubon will continue to analyze and report on Cape Wind through:

    1. MMS’ OCS lease arrangement;
    2. ACOE Section 10 permit issued under the US Rivers and Harbors Act;
    3. EMS adaptive management plan; and
    4. Avian monitoring and mitigation plan implementation during the construction and three year post-construction phases of the project.


    Cape Wind to the rescue? LOL!

    “Who are these guys, Cape Wind, EMI, UPC, First Wind, IVPC?”


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