Saturday, June 1, 2024

Judge Greenlights Virginia Offshore Wind Power

Virginia Mercury,  Federal judge denies request to delay Dominion’s offshore wind project "Says plaintiffs didn’t demonstrate need to prevent “irreparable harm”"

A federal judge has rejected a legal attempt to put a pause on Dominion Energy’s offshore wind project that many see as a critical tool to address the root causes of climate change and provide clean energy to Virginia.

Judge Loren L. AliKhan, for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, on Friday denied the request for a preliminary injunction from plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which included two conservative groups — The Heartland Institute and the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) — and the fossil fuel-funded Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT).

The three plaintiffs sought the delay because of potential harm to the North Atlantic Right Whale, an endangered species that migrates through the 113,000-acre project area located about 29 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. The project is expected to be finished in 2026.

The groups did not demonstrate “that they will suffer irreparable harm in the absence of a preliminary injunction or administrative stay,” wrote AliKhan in her order. “That is a sufficient basis to deny their motion.”

Dominion, which opposed the delay request alongside the federal government that gave approvals for the project, said the utility, “agree[s] with the Court’s decision.”

“The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) performed a thorough environmental review and the environmental protections we have in place for Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) are protective of the environment and marine wildlife,” utility spokesperson Jeremy Slayton said in a statement.


Craig Rucker, president of CFACT, said there were “inconsistencies” with the judges’ decision, considering the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration made a recent request for vessels near Virginia Beach to voluntarily slow down out of concern for the North Atlantic Right Whale.

The groups suing said the National Marine Fisheries Service opinion didn’t take into account cumulative effects of other projects proposed along the East Coast that could cause the biological opinion to reach a different conclusion.

The NMFS had issued a biological opinion in September that stated the piledriving of the 176 wind turbine’s foundations had the “potential to disturb,” but not a “potential to injure” the species, and put construction restrictions in place to minimize disturbances.

Restrictions on the project include: limiting construction from May through October, when the Right Whales are unlikely to be in the area; pausing construction when a whale is spotted; and establishing a comprehensive “Vessel Strike Avoidance Plan” and mitigation plans.

“Plaintiffs have not explained why these measures would not be sufficient to protect the Right Whale during the pendency of this litigation,” AliKhan wrote. In order for a pause to be issued, AliKhan explained in her order, the plaintiffs must show that the pause is needed to prevent “irreparable harm,” among other considerations.

I guess the judge doesn't believe in the precautionary principle, at least when it's applied to a Biden Administration goal, offshore wind power.

As usual, this caveat, I don't believe that activities involved in offshore wind power production substantially harm whales, but I don't disbelieve it either. Evidence either way is lacking, for the simple reason that whales make lousy lab animals, for obvious reasons. I do know that if this were anything but wind or solar power, the "environmentalists" would be screaming to stop it based on their presumption of harm to the whales. 

The Wombat has Rule 5 Sunday: Pyjamarama up at The Other McCain.

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