May 20, 2021 – The following was released by the Fisheries Survival Fund:
The Fisheries Survival Fund is disappointed in the decision issued today by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. However, we will continue to work with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and all federal, state, and local government agencies, as well as wind energy farm developers, to ensure that these new uses of our coastal waters are created in such a way that they do not devastate existing uses, which in this case is one of the most important scallop grounds on the East Coast.
The court ruled that because BOEM doesn’t technically commit to anything at the lease stage, it is too early to challenge the siting of the wind farm under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The decision means that affected parties cannot challenge a lease location under NEPA until BOEM approves a Construction and Operations Plan (COP) for the wind farm. However, that is very late in the process, and changing the lease location at such a late date would be exceedingly difficult.
Since this litigation was filed, eight additional leasing areas have been proposed, all of which conflict with natural scallop habitat and historic scalloping grounds.
We will continue to work with BOEM to seek modified versions of several of the leasing areas due to their proximity to sensitive scallop areas. Under the current boundaries, historically important scallop areas will be directly next to wind turbines, and all of the negative environmental impacts they bring with them. By shifting the boundaries of some of these areas, and creating additional buffer zones between scallop areas and the turbines, BOEM can better ensure that scallop fishing will be unaffected, without diminishing the potential for wind power in the area.
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