Renewable Energy News: Bird Protections Create Legal Hurdles for Cape Wind

February 11, 2016

RENEWABLE ENERGY NEWS:  Bird protections create legal hurdles for Cape Wind
Robin Bravender, E&E reporter
Thursday, February 11, 2016

The long-stalled offshore wind project planned for the coastal waters off Massachusetts could face even more legal roadblocks.

Federal appeals court judges today signaled skepticism about whether the government had properly determined how to minimize the project's impact on migratory birds.

The Cape Wind project, intended to be the country's first offshore wind farm, has been beset by legal and financial problems in recent years.

A panel of judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit today heard oral arguments in the latest legal challenges over the project's impact on wildlife and how it will affect navigational safety.

Among the issues still pending is a challenge from Pubic Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and other groups that the Fish and Wildlife Service failed to consider the "best scientific and commercial data available" when determining how to minimize the project's impact on migratory birds.

A lower court judge ruled in 2014 that FWS had improperly relied on the views of Cape Wind and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in determining how to minimize the project's impact on migratory birds. The service determined that "feathering" the turbines so they do not spin at certain times would reduce bird deaths, but it decided against requiring those measures because BOEM and Cape Wind determined they were not reasonable, as the project would not be financially viable if it had to shut down at those times (E&ENews PM, March 14, 2014).

Later that year, FWS replied by stating it had independently evaluated and rejected the proposed "feathering" technique.

PEER's attorney, Eric Glitzenstein, today told the court that FWS "totally and utterly" disregarded new information about how to protect migratory species before it issued its determination.

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Reprinted via Renewable Energy News    - the News Service is not affiliated with the Alliance