Nantucket Residents Challenging Wind Turbine Project Ruling, Citing Whale Safety

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By Chris Lisinski
State House News Service

A group of Nantucket residents opposed to an offshore wind installation that is nearing completion want another round in their long-running legal fight.

The Nantucket Residents Against Turbines organization, which refers to itself as ACK RATS, late last week filed an appeal challenging a federal judge’s ruling in May that effectively dismissed the group’s prior complaint against the Vineyard Wind project.

Plaintiffs continue to argue that federal regulators, including the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, failed to consider risks the wind turbines pose to North Atlantic right whales, an endangered species with only a few hundred animals remaining in the wild. Citing the threat of vessel strikes and whales experiencing hearing loss from turbine pile-driving and operation, the group alleges that allowing Vineyard Wind to proceed will push the whales closer to a “watery grave.”

“We have been asked to believe that the reviewing agencies used the best science available to them, but this couldn’t be further from reality,” Vallorie Oliver, a plaintiff in the case, said in a statement provided by ACK RATS. “There is simply no valid excuse for using studies that support Vineyard Wind’s project while completely failing to account for key data that show the opposite:  we need to pump the brakes on this Project and perform a better environmental review.”

ACK RATS first challenged the project in 2021. U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani last year ruled against them, concluding that the residents’ group failed to demonstrate that federal regulators fell short of their legal requirements during environmental review, according to the Martha’s Vineyard Times.

The group asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit to reconsider Talwani’s decision.

Vineyard Wind — which could become the first utility-scale offshore wind installation in the country — plans to begin generating clean power for Massachusetts next month before ramping up to its full 800-megawatt operations.

The plaintiffs say that the defendants, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, have 30 days to respond to the appeal submission.


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