Federal district court decision appears to clear way for Cape Wind

By Robert J Alessi and Jeffrey D Kuhn

The Federal District Court in Washington DC has issued a lengthy ruling that appeared to substantially clear the way for Cape Wind, a large proposed offshore wind farm on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound, south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

The decision, issued on 14 March by Judge Reggie B Walton in Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility v Beaudreu, dismissed dozens of claims brought to invalidate federal approvals of Cape Wind and largely resolved four consolidated lawsuits filed in 2010 by the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, the Town of Barnstable, the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe and the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

The plaintiffs in the consolidated action attempted to throw the proverbial book at Cape Wind and the federal agencies that had issued approvals/ authorisations for the project by claiming violations of a litany of federal statues, including the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (Shelf Act), the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act, the Rivers and Harbors Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Clean Water Act and the Administrative Procedures Act…

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