We’re not going to let NIMBYism shut this [offshore wind] down

New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney

Funny, isn’t it? Statists at the EPA can unilaterally decide to cripple the auto racing industry in the United States without even a public hearing.

Statists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can tell people they cannot use their property because of a salamander or a toad.

NIMBYism shuts down the Keystone Pipeline and takes thousands of jobs, billions in wages, and multiple billions in investment and lost benefits and throws them in the trash.

The fine for killing a bald eagle can be as high as half a million dollars – plus felony jail time. But wind turbines kill thousands of eagles, and hundreds of thousands of other birds and bats, and get away with no penalty at all because regulators enable them to purchase “incidental take permits” that excuse their avian violence.

Big Wind can even get regulators to ignore a warning from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that offshore wind will devastate marine life and destroy the local fishing industry. The Corps’ warning likely speaks the truth about fisheries and marine life wherever offshore wind farms go up – on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts – even in Hawai’i.

Or can it?

Solar energy magnate (and attorney) Thomas Melone, CEO for Allco Renewable Energy Ltd., on July 18 filed a lawsuit against five federal officials and the agencies they represent challenging the validity of the permit issued to Vineyard Wind. Melone is seeking to have the final ruling vacated until “federal defendants take a meaningful hard look at the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts” of the project.

Melone, who is representing himself, his solar company, and Allco Finance Ltd.. argued in his filing that “(T)he government’s conclusion that the fishing industry will need to abandon the wind energy area* due to difficulties with navigation shows the tragic consequence of the Vineyard Wind project and also why the Vineyard Wind project cannot be approved under existing law.”

[*In the May 10, 2021, Record of Decision issued by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.]

In the text of the lawsuit, Melone states that NOAA Fisheries’ biological opinion (issued September 11, 2020) is an ‘Achilles’ heel’ on the entire approval of the Vineyard Wind project. “The problem,” the suit alleges, “with the biological opinion is that all its conclusions are based upon an unlawful standard created by unlawful changes to regulations in 2019 – changes that the defendants appear poised to concede in other litigation were, in fact, unlawful.”

Melone, who asserts that we can decarbonize by “lifting up all people,” said he filed the suit because “ending the livelihoods and way of life of generations of fishermen and women and quickening the extinction of marine species is the wrong and unnecessary path.”

Melone’s filing further asserted that the Solicitor for the Interior Department had issued a shocking legal opinion concluding that Interior Secretary Deb Haaland had discretion to “balance” mandated criteria for approving projects. This means she can ignore some criteria, such as safety.

Yet another concern cited in the lawsuit is Melone’s contention that giant wind turbines are not rated as being able to withstand the force of high winds from severe hurricanes. Even one toppled turbine would wreak havoc on marine commerce – and dump oil and other contaminants into the sea.

With over 2,000 turbines in the Atlantic foreseen by President Biden, another Super Storm Sandy could spill more oil into the ocean than the Exxon Valdez. The nation would thus be “one category 4 storm away from an environmental disaster of historic proportions.”

Will Melone’s lawsuit have legs? It is clearly unwelcome to the windbag media.

Woke journalist Molly Taft, in her article on the lawsuit, found experts who countered some of Melone’s claims, provided a review of Melone’s lawsuit history, which included the successful campaign to stop the Cape Wind project offshore Massachusetts, and asked Melone how could he square his stated commitment to fighting climate change with his ‘lashing out’ at an industry that will be ‘crucial’ to transitioning us off fossil fuels.

All across America – and around the world – small fishing villages and tourist towns face near-extinction from giant offshore wind farms, many of them foreign owned, that siphon hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars into megabanks in return for the privilege of reaping massive rewards whether or not they generate their specified amount of electricity.

As senate president, Sweeney is an apt spokesperson for Big Wind. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy just signed legislation that strips coastal communities of the right to block buried power lines for projects like Danish firm Orsted A/S’s Ocean Wind 1 off the state’s coast. Sweeney, who cosponsored the bill, boasted, “We’re not going to let NIMBYism shut this down.”

Down in North Carolina, Governor Roy Cooper in June signed an executive order aimed at accelerating wind energy production off the North Carolina coast before a federal moratorium prohibiting offshore leasing for energy production takes effect in July 1, 2022. A bipartisan group of state lawmakers encouraged the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to “expeditiously” begin leasing existing offshore wind areas.

But despite urban support, all the towns in coastal Brunswick County passed resolutions asking that any offshore wind turbines be located at least 24 nautical miles from their tourist-friendly beaches. But Big Windbags cry that only a small sliver of the two designated wind energy areas that lie seaward from Brunswick County are outside the 24-mile limit. Davids versus Goliaths.

New Jersey “nimbys,” even many who fear climate change, are incensed at the arrogance and ramrodding of big wind down their throats. Some are demanding that New Jersey – like Maine to the north – begin its quest for offshore wind with a demonstration project. Such a project would provide real-world data on the actual (rather than predicted) impacts of floating wind turbines in deep water and the giant cables that bring electricity from the turbines to the shore.

Maybe the best citizens can do against the megabucks Big Windbags is to slow down their march to own the ocean. Maybe politicos should listen to Cindy Zipf, executive director of the New Jersey-based ocean advocacy group Clean Ocean Action.

In an interview for Yahoo News, Zipf told reporter Wayne Parry that, “If we don’t get this right, we may learn too late that the ‘Great Offshore Wind Boom’ of the 2020s accelerated the ecological collapse of this ocean realm, the billion-dollar economies it supports, and its ability to help buffer climate change…. We must take care not to act recklessly, threatening the very goose that lays the golden eggs – our vibrant, giving ocean.”


  • Duggan Flanakin

    Duggan Flanakin is the Director of Policy Research at the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow. A former Senior Fellow with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Mr. Flanakin authored definitive works on the creation of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and on environmental education in Texas. A brief history of his multifaceted career appears in his book, "Infinite Galaxies: Poems from the Dugout."