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MA - Texas public policy foundation brings fishermen's lawsuit against Vineyard Wind

The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has so prioritized offshore wind energy development that it is bypassing real environmental review and failing to consider alternative sites that won’t harm the commercial fishing industry, charges a lawsuit brought by the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has so prioritized offshore wind energy development that it is bypassing real environmental review and failing to consider alternative sites that won’t harm the commercial fishing industry, charges a lawsuit brought by the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Filed Dec. 15 in federal court in Washington, D.C., on behalf of six fishing businesses in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New York, the action challenges BOEM and other federal agencies on their review of the 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind project off southern New England.

The lead plaintiff, Seafreeze Shoreside Inc. of North Kingston, R.I., is a homeport and major processor for the Northeast squid fleet. Captains there are adamant they will not be able to fish if Vineyard Wind and other planned turbine arrays are erected in those waters.

Meghan Lapp, fisheries liaison at Seafreeze and a vocal advocate for its fishermen, said she had heard mention of the Texas Public Policy Foundation in conversation, “kind of along the lines of Pacific Legal Foundation which litigated for the fishing industry on the Northeast marine monument” fishing restrictions recently reinstated by the Biden administration.

Lapp said she looked at the group’s website and read about their involvement on economic issues, healthcare including a case now before the Supreme Court, education and local government.

“It looked promising, so I contacted them through their website,” several months ago, she said.

Along with putting a legal team on the case, the TPPF’s media unit traveled to Rhode Island to interview and film fishermen for a short documentary now posted on the foundation’s website and promoted through social media.

In addition to Seafreeze, the foundation is representing the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, the XIII Northeast Fishery Sector Inc. in Dartmouth, Mass., and family fishing businesses Heritage Fisheries Inc. and Nat. W. Inc., both in Westerly, R.I., and Old Squaw Fisheries in Montauk, N.Y. All rely on waters around the Vineyard Wind lease for most of their annual catch, the lawsuit says.

As defendants, the lawsuit names BOEM, the Interior Department, National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers which all play a role in the permitting process.

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