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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