A group of North American fishing organisations, businesses and communities, led by the Fisheries Survival Fund (FSF), has moved forward with a lawsuit to try to halt the leasing of a planned wind farm off the coast of New York.
The suit, filed against the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), is seeking summary judgment and requesting the court to invalidate the lease, which was awarded to the Norwegian firm Statoil to develop the New York Wind Energy Area (NY WEA).
It is claimed that BOEM’s process for awarding the lease failed to properly consider the planned wind farm’s impact on area fish populations and habitats, shoreside communities, safety, and navigation.
This violates the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires an assessment of these impacts before issuing the lease, in conjunction with a full Environmental Impact Statement and an evaluation of alternative locations for any proposal.
The site for the proposed wind farm includes key scallop, squid and other Atlantic fishing grounds, as well as ocean habitats that are crucial for species such as loggerhead sea turtles, right whales, black sea bass and summer flounder.
Because of how BOEM’s leasing process unfolds, the wind farm’s expected impacts on natural resources and those who rely on them will not be examined until the project is nearing completion.
The bureau has been accused of failing to consider the impacts on fisheries, safety, navigation and other natural resources.
David Frulla, who is representing FSF and the other plaintiffs in the case, said: ‘The plaintiffs in this case believe sensible wind energy development and fishing can co-exist.
‘Any offshore energy project must first meaningfully consider the impact on the habitats, marine species, and economic interests that may be harmed before selecting a wind farm site and issuing a lease to a private developer.’
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