Anti-Wind Groups Challenge Atlantic Shores Project Approval in New Jersey

Three groups sue New Jersey to block Atlantic Shores wind farm project, citing environmental concerns. The lawsuit challenges the state's environmental approval, potentially impacting offshore wind development along the East Coast.

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Nimrah Khatoon
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Anti-Wind Groups Challenge Atlantic Shores Project Approval in New Jersey

Anti-Wind Groups Challenge Atlantic Shores Project Approval in New Jersey

Three groups have filed a lawsuit against the state of New Jersey, seeking to overturn the environmental approval granted to the Atlantic Shores wind farm project off the coast of Long Beach Island. Save Long Beach Island, Defend Brigantine Beach, and Protect Our Coast NJ argue that the offshore wind development will cause significant damage to marine habitats, seafloor integrity, endangered species, and commercial fishing stocks.

Why this matters: The outcome of this lawsuit will have significant implications for the future of offshore wind development along the East Coast and could impact the ability of states to meet their renewable energy goals. As the world transitions to cleaner energy sources, the balance between environmental concerns and energy production will continue to be a pressing issue.

The lawsuit, filed on April 26 in appellate court, challenges the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's determination that the Atlantic Shores project meets the requirements of a federal coastal protection law. Attorney Bruce Afran, representing the groups, stated, "The approval flies in the face of the federal regulator's environmental impact statement that says the Atlantic Shores project will damage marine habitat, compress and harden the seafloor, damage marine communities, compromise migration corridors for endangered species, and cause commercial fishing stocks to decline."

Atlantic Shores is one of three groups of new proposed wind farms off New Jersey's coast that have received preliminary approval. The same three groups had previously challenged another wind farm project proposed by Danish company Orsted, which was ultimately scrapped in October. New Jersey has set an ambitious goal of generating 100% of its power from clean sources by 2035 and aims to become the East Coast leader in offshore wind development.

The lawsuit has sparked a debate about the motivations behind the anti-wind groups' efforts. Joshua Henne, a political strategist advising several groups fighting climate change, accused them of acting in league with the fossil fuel industry, calling their campaign "astroturf, seeded by the fossil fuel industry." However, Robin Shaffer, president of Protect Our Coast, vehemently denied these allegations, stating, "We have never taken one penny from any entity linked to the fossil fuel industry. Not one."

Key Takeaways

  • Three groups sue NJ to block Atlantic Shores wind farm project.
  • Lawsuit claims project will harm marine habitats, species, and fishing stocks.
  • Outcome will impact East Coast offshore wind development and renewable energy goals.
  • NJ aims to generate 100% clean power by 2035 and lead in offshore wind.
  • Lawsuit sparks debate over motivations and fossil fuel industry involvement.