A group of New Jersey residents have sued the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to seek the reversal of its March decision to pursue the development of an area of ocean 30 miles off the coast of New Jersey for wind turbines.
The agency is widely expected to announce a lease sale for the area, called the New York Bight, as soon as this week.
Community group Save Long Beach Island accused BOEM in Washington, D.C., federal court Monday of failing to prepare an in-depth report on potential environmental impacts of selecting 800,000 acres of the New York Bight to lease to developers that would install wind turbines.
BOEM’s March 26 decision advanced Biden’s plans to double the capacity of fledging U.S. offshore wind capacity by 2030 and decarbonize the power sector by 2035.
The failure to prepare an environmental impact statement before selecting five areas of the New York Bight “effectively forecloses any opportunity for the public to comment” on the site’s selection, the complaint says.
BOEM did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It has said that it would assess potential environmental impacts pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act after wind leases are issued, the complaint says.
Bob Stern, president of Save Long Beach Island, told Reuters that they are concerned by the aesthetic impacts of the turbines, and potential lost tourism due to their interference with Long Beach Island’s current unobstructed seascape. The group says tourism is the community’s “economic lifeblood.”
The proposed sale of leases in the New York Bight has the potential to unlock more than seven gigawatts of offshore wind energy, powering more than 2.6 million homes, the Interior Department has said.
The group also says that the development could further imperil the North Atlantic right whale, one of the world’s most endangered large whale species.
Last year, the Interior Department approved the first commercial-scale wind farm, the 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind project off the coast of Massachusetts.
The project has been challenged in federal court by a solar company and members of the commercial fishing industry saying it threatens the fishing industry and vessel navigation.
The case is Save Long Beach Island v. U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, No. 1:22-cv-00055.
For Save Long Beach Island: Nancie Marzulla of Marzulla Law; and David Hubbard of Gatzke Dillon & Balance
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