Cape May County, N.J. launches lawsuit challenging Orsted wind project approvals

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New York Construction Report staff writer

Cape May County, N.J. has filed a lawsuit in the Federal District Court for the District of New Jersey against multiple Federal agencies, alleging that Federal regulators abandoned their obligations to protect the environment and Atlantic-coastal marine life in favor of “an inappropriate collusion with Big Wind interests.”

The County is joined by fellow plaintiffs, the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Wildwood Hotel Motel Association, Clean Ocean Action, the Garden State Seafood Association, LaMonica Fine Foods, Lund’s Fisheries and Surfside Seafood Products.

“As we’ve said many times, we spent the better part of two years trying to negotiate with Orsted to redesign this project in a way that would cause less damage to the environment and less damage to our Tourism and Fisheries interests,” said Cape May County Board of Commissioners Director Len Desiderio. “Our reasonable proposals fell on deaf ears as state and Federal regulators rubber stamped permits to rush the Ocean Wind One project to approval.

“We believe the Federal permitting process was fatally flawed and we have assembled a great legal team to pursue these issues in the Federal Courts. There is far too much at stake to do nothing. This suit brings together important stakeholders in Cape May County willing to fight to protect our economy, our environment and our future.”

The suit alleges that federal regulatory agencies ignored federal laws and regulations in reaching decisions to rush approval of permits for Orsted’s Ocean Wind One project off the shores of Cape May County.

“Two things have been conclusively established so far,” said Cape May County Special Counsel for Offshore Wind Michael J. Donohue. “First, these are nonpartisan issues, with leading voices on both sides of the aisle in New Jersey and throughout the country now voicing the same concerns about the negative impacts of offshore wind projects that Cape May County has been raising for the past two years.

“Second, constructing this project and all of the other proposed offshore wind projects, according to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, will have no positive impact on climate change or reducing global warming.*

The Cape May County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously not to allow Cape May County and its environment, Tourism industry and Fisheries industry “be the subject of a massive, reckless experiment that will permanently change our way of life, without an unprecedented and aggressive challenge in the Federal Courts.”

The lawsuit is expected to be decided before the end of 2024, and County officials say they anticipate Federal Courts will force federal regulatory agencies to put Orsted’s permits on hold and go back and fix the flawed processes that were utilized to ignore important environmental, marine species, economic and historic resource protections.

To view the complaint, click here.

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