Green Oceans, a new NGO, has emerged as a formidable force in the battle against wind farms in New England. Founded in January 2023 by a passionate group of individuals, Green Oceans has launched a series of lawsuits against wind farm developers, coupled with extensive educational and outreach initiatives.

The organization has forged a strong alliance with fishermen, recognizing their pivotal role in this struggle. “We’ve formed a bond with them, and they’ve reciprocated,” shares the group’s co-founder Bill Thompson. “Fishermen are at the forefront of this issue,” he emphasizes. “They will bear the brunt of the impact.”

The Green Oceans website showcases a video featuring Meghan Lapp of the Center for Sustainable Fisheries, Rhode Island. Lapp, a co-plaintiff with Green Oceans in a federal suit against wind farm development, labels wind farms as the most significant threat to commercial fishing on the East Coast. “If the boats disappear, everything will vanish,” she warns, referring to many jobs in seafood processing, vessel repair and maintenance, and more.

Following the federal lawsuit filed in January, Green Oceans announced on April 24 that it had filed a motion with the court to stay all approvals and authorizations for the Revolution Wind offshore project construction on Coxes Ledge off the coast of Rhode Island. The motion noted that the Biological Opinion for the project was deemed “inadequate” by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

Citing insufficient protections for the endangered sei and fin whales and for two species of endangered turtles, NMFS, and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) have requested to reinitiate the Biological Opinion under the Endangered Species Act. Thompson suspects that NMFS wants to get the legitimate Biological Opinion in place by April 30. “They want it ready for when pile driving season opens on May 1,” he says.

“We respectfully ask the Court to ensure that the developers comply with the government’s request to halt construction and to cease irreparably altering Coxes Ledge until NOAA prepares a new and valid Opinion. The inadequacy of the first Biological Opinion highlights the failure of the government to obey environmental regulations in a rush to permit the Revolution Wind project,” said Dr. Lisa Quattrocki Knight, the president and co-founder of Green Oceans, along with Thompson.

 “The government dropped the ball and did not comply with the Endangered Species Act when it approved the project,” says Knight. While construction activity before the issue of a revised Biological Opinion goes against existing environmental protections, Knight raises concerns about continued work being done moving boulders and dumping scour protection on Coxes Ledge without a valid permit.

Green Oceans filed its initial suit under the Administrative Procedure Act, accusing NMFS, BOEM, and other federal agencies of violating eight environmental protection statutes and asking the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to invalidate the approvals for Revolution Wind and another project until the government complies with all relevant statutes and regulations.

NOAA Fisheries declined to comment on the Green Oceans motion. Through a spokeswoman the agency confirmed that BOEM and the NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources requested a reinitiation of the Endangered Species Act consultation that had been completed for the Revolution Wind project in July 2023. 

After a the consultation is complete  a new Biological Opinion will be issued to BOEM and other agencies.

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Paul Molyneaux is the Boats & Gear editor for National Fisherman.

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