(FixThisNation.com) – Cape May County, New Jersey, spearheads a group of concerned parties in a legal battle against the Biden administration, contesting the creation of an extensive offshore wind farm off their shores.
The legal challenge, directed at the Department of the Interior and Secretary Deb Haaland, among others, accuses the U.S. government of forsaking environmental safeguards, allegedly due to undue influence from major wind energy corporations. At the heart of the dispute is the sanctioning of Ocean Wind 1, a venture by Denmark’s energy firm, Orsted.
Len Desiderio, the head of the Cape May County Board of Commissioners, expressed frustration over futile efforts to persuade Orsted to modify their plans to mitigate environmental and economic impacts. He criticized state and federal authorities for their perceived hasty approval of the project.
Desiderio emphasized the lawsuit’s aim to correct what they see as a severely compromised federal permitting procedure. He stressed the high stakes involved, necessitating this legal action backed by various Cape May County factions committed to defending local economic interests, environmental health, and their community’s future.
Joining the county in the lawsuit are several organizations and local businesses, including the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Wildwood Hotel Motel Association, Clean Ocean Action, the Garden State Seafood Association, and others.
The lawsuit contends that the U.S. government is hastily greenlighting offshore wind projects like Ocean Wind 1, neglecting due diligence on potential economic and environmental repercussions. The litigants seek a judicial order pausing Orsted’s permits and compelling agencies to rectify the allegedly neglected processes, overlooking crucial environmental, economic, and historical safeguards.
Special counsel for Cape May County, Michael Donohue, highlighted the bipartisan nature of the issues, noting growing national apprehension about offshore wind projects’ adverse effects. He also argued that, per the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s own admissions, these wind endeavors wouldn’t significantly curb climate change or global warming.
Tracing back to the Obama era, the Ocean Wind 1 initiative came into being post-2015, with its formal endorsement arriving in July 2021, followed by the ratification of Orsted’s construction and operation blueprint shortly after.
The comprehensive proposal involves almost 200 wind turbines spread over a vast area off Cape May County’s shores, potentially impacting local vistas and ecosystems. The plan includes two main transmission paths and a substation within the county, with an operational deadline set for 2025 for Ocean Wind 1, and a later date for Ocean Wind 2.
Despite ongoing dialogues since 2021, the county’s attempts to negotiate with Orsted reached a stalemate, as the firm sought backing from wind project-friendly state and federal representatives. The county insists the venture offers minimal climate benefits while predicting substantial economic losses and environmental harm. The county’s stance culminated in a unanimous resolution in May opposing the wind initiative.
Orsted’s representative, Tom Suthard, responded to the county’s resolution, affirming the company’s continued commitment to working with local authorities and communities. He emphasized Orsted’s dedication to fulfilling New Jersey’s green energy aspirations, alongside boosting employment and economic growth, in line with the state’s pioneering role in offshore wind energy development.
Situated at New Jersey’s southern tip, Cape May County encompasses 16 distinct administrative entities and is home to roughly 95,000 people.
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