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Massachusetts judge throws out Cape Wind suit

29 Apr 2010 22:53 (+01:00 GMT)
Massachusetts judge throws out Cape Wind suit

Washington, 29 April (Argus) — A Massachusetts Superior Court judge yesterday threw out a suit opposing the 468MW Cape Wind project, the same day the Department of Interior granted its approval, clearing the way for the nation's first offshore wind farm.

Associate Justice Robert Rufo agreed with the project developer that the final environmental impact report filed with the Massachusetts secretary of energy and environmental affairs complied with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act. Cape Wind was sued by the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound and town of Barnstable, Massachusetts, on the basis that the secretary's review should have included the components of the project that are located in federal waters. But the secretary's authority to review projects under the act is limited to projects that will be located on state land and water, Cape Wind said.

The judge's ruling came on the same day the federal government announced its approval for the Nantucket Sound project. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's decision to approve the plant yesterday triggered an immediate notice from a coalition of stakeholder groups announcing they will file a new suit claiming the decision ignores the recent positions taken against the project by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Massachusetts Historical Commission and the National Park Service. The groups recently ruled that Nantucket Sound was eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places which, like national parklands, would provide it a higher level of protection from industrial development.

Audra Parker, chief executive of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, said today that multiple laws in addition to preservation laws have been violated and the lawsuit will be filed by multiple parties. The alliance and other stakeholders sent notices of intent to sue in anticipation of Interior's approval. The parties will wait the required 60 days before filing the new lawsuit.

“Every lawsuit that has been filed against this clean energy project has either been thrown out or decided against the opponents,” said Dennis Duffy, Cape Wind's counsel. “Twelve suits have been filed, and 12 times federal and state judges have said the project deserves to move forward.”

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