Around New England

Newport Mansions Non-Profit Organization Sues Federal Government, Saying Ugly Ocean Wind Turbines Would Ruin The View

November 28, 2023

The non-profit organization that runs several Newport mansions as museums has sued the federal government to try to stop the building of hundreds of ocean turbines, some as tall as 968 feet, saying they would ruin the view.

“We support green energy,” said Trudy Coxe, chief executive officer of the Preservation Society of Newport County, in a written statement, according to The Providence Journal. “… Green energy projects need not come at the unnecessary loss to our community’s irreplaceable character and sense of place.”

Coxe is the former head of Save the Bay and served as Massachusetts secretary of environmental affairs from 1993 to 1998, under then-governor William Weld and then-governor Paul Cellucci.

The Preservation Society of Newport County owns 10 properties in Newport, Rhode Island, including The Breakers, the 70-room oceanfront 1890s mansion built as a summer home for Cornelius Vanderbilt II. It also owns a garden in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

“Newport’s globally recognized National Historic Landmarks face the prospect of over 500 highly visible offshore wind turbines that will industrialize Newport’s iconic Atlantic Ocean views for at least the next thirty years. Each turbine rises to nearly three times the height of the Statue of Liberty and taller than an 80-story skyscraper,” states the plaintiffs’ complaint, which was filed Monday, November 22 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. “Proposed projects will inflict severe and long-lasting effects on the character, community, and heritage-tourism-driven economy of Newport, including historic properties that depend on this economy for their preservation activities.”

Southeast Lighthouse Foundation, which owns a lighthouse on Block Island, which is off the coast of mainland Rhode Island, is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

The defendants are the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management; Deb Haaland, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior; and the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The plaintiffs’ complaint argues that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management “succumbed to intense political pressure to conduct a sham consulting process with numerous skipped steps and foregone conclusions, shirking its responsibility to the public and allowing corporate energy developers to set the terms for permitting.”

Supporters of the ocean wind turbines say they will help the region and the nation provide electricity and transition from fossil-fuel sources such as oil, natural gas, and coal, which they say contribute to climate change, which they say is harmful.

Opponents of the wind turbines argue that the wind turbines are ugly, would harm birds, whales, and the environment, and would require on-shore cables that would emit electromagnetic radiation that they say could harm people. Some opponents also note that the wind turbines wouldn’t be financially feasible without massive government subsidies.

 

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