The Biden administration’s approval for the first big offshore wind farm in US waters has met with opposition from recreational fishing groups.
The long-stalled proposal to build wind farms in the Atlantic Ocean along the East Coast took a major step forward this week with the authorisation for a project off Martha’s Vineyard. And the $2.8 billion installation by Vineyard Wind LLC could trigger approval for other developers to build more than a dozen similar projects from Massachusetts to North Carolina.
While two small winds farms operate in East Coast waters, no other major offshore wind project has progressed this far in the federal process. The authorisation means the scheme is on track to begin supplying power in 2023, though it is not certain that Vineyard Wind will survive legal challenges expected from fishing bodies and other stakeholders.
Fishing groups argue that the project’s design is flawed and the Government’s environmental reviews are inadequate. The Responsible Offshore Development Alliance, which represents fishing interests, said the design could force some boats to lose time and revenue navigating around the site. Alliance Executive Director Annie Hawkins said other concerns about icing and radar interference had been largely ignored, adding: “It certainly appears they haven’t taken measures to mitigate fisheries impacts.”
Opponents also argue that while developers have made changes to their initial placement plans, they did not fully address the problems. And the Interior Department itself has acknowledged the project could impact commercial fisheries and recreational fishing.
The US has lagged behind Europe and Asia in generating power at sea, according to energyvoice.com. The Vineyard Wind development will have the capacity to power some 400,000 East Coast homes and is a big step in President Biden’s goal of deploying 30,000 megawatts of offshore wind capacity by the end of the decade. The failed Cape Wind project of 2017 faltered after a 16-year battle against opponents including the Kennedy family and billionaire industrialist Bill Koch.