Three groups in coastal New Jersey communities filed a new lawsuit against state environmental regulators and offshore wind developer Ørsted seeking to overturn state approvals for the Ocean Wind 1 project.
Ørsted’s planned layout of 98 wind turbines, each about 900 feet tall within nine to 15 miles of the beach, “will be fully visible from New Jersey’s beaches and will crush and destroy the seabed, each tower weighing up to five million pounds,” according to the groups Save LBI, Defend Brigantine Beach and Protect Our Coast NJ.
The activist groups are represented by Bruce Afran, a Princeton, N.J., lawyer who works on issues of civil rights, constitutional law and the environment. In a court filing, Afran contends the state Department of Environmental Protection permit approvals for Ocean Wind 1 violate the state’s Coastal Zone Management Act.
“DEP has acknowledged the wind turbines will destroy marine habitat, compress the seafloor, severely damage marine communities, compromise migration corridors for endangered marine mammals, cause commercial fishing stocks to decline, and injure the beach economy,” Afran wrote in filing the notice of appeal.
“Yet, the state persists in the bizarre belief that this massive engineering project will not injure our state’s coastal zone, one of the most important marine communities on the East Coast and the core of New Jersey’s $47 billion tourist industry,” he wrote.
The state’s permitting process falls far short on considering all those economic effects, from “aesthetic and economic injuries and loss to the recreational, food, lodging and fishing industries or fails to adequately evaluate such losses and harm.,” wrote Afran
In announcing the new lawsuit, Keith Moore of Defend Brigantine Beach, said that this is the beginning of a series of planned legal challenges his group expects to file.
“This is the first of a series of lawsuits that will challenge the federal and state government’s targeting of New Jersey’s coast with a vast industrial project that will permanently damage the ocean environment and our shore communities,” said Moore said.
Ørsted’ s U.S. subsidiary Ocean Wind LLC is named as co-defendant along with New Jersey’s DEP.
“We hope the offshore wind industry begins to understand that it will face fierce and growing legal battles if it continues in this destructive mission,” Afran said.