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Texas free-enterprise group sues feds over Vineyard Wind

Sarah Mizes-Tan
Wind turbines in Block Island Sound

A Texas policy group is suing the Biden administration over Vineyard Wind, the nation’s first large-scale offshore wind farm, which won approval in May.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation focuses on free enterprise and limited government.

Ted Hadzi-Antich, a senior attorney at the foundation, said offshore wind turbines will threaten family fishing businesses, not just in the Northeast, but anywhere they appear on the U.S. coast.

“The primary focus, as I mentioned before, is really to protect the commercial fishing industry,” he said.

The group filed the lawsuit today on behalf of fishing companies in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York. They include the 49 members of Northeast Fishery Sector 13, plus four other fishing businesses and the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association.

South Coast vessels are heavily represented in Sector 13.

The Texas foundation’s energy initiative promotes American fossil fuels, but Hadzi-Antich said the lawsuit isn’t about protecting oil and gas.

“That's not part of this case at all,” he said. “It's focused on these family businesses that we represent, whose livelihoods depend on their ability to fish the waters in the Outer Continental Shelf.”

In an interview, he quoted from the federal decision on Vineyard Wind, which says it’s likely that commercial fisheries will abandon the entire Vineyard Wind area, more than 75,000 acres, because of the difficulty of navigation.

In addition, the legal complaint says the government failed to fully account for the potential harm to endangered North Atlantic right whales.

The lawsuit names 14 defendants, including the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Department of Commerce, National Marine Fisheries Service, Department of Defense, Army Corps of Engineers, and individual leaders of those agencies.

This is at least the fourth lawsuit to fight Vineyard Wind.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which issued the approval of Vineyard Wind, did not respond to a request for an interview.

Vineyard Wind spokesman Andrew Doba said the company wouldn’t comment on pending litigation.

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.