Federal Court Clears Path for Pioneering Cape Wind Offshore Wind Project

Victory for Cape Wind and the More Than a Dozen Others Underway Off U.S. Coasts

WASHINGTON (March 14, 2014) – A federal court today overwhelmingly rejected efforts of opponents to defeat Cape Wind, an offshore wind project in Nantucket Sound that has been in development for more than a decade.  

Today’s decision from the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., considered claims in four lawsuits brought chiefly by the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound—a group that counts fossil fuel billionaire Bill Koch as its largest funder—against the government’s approval of the Cape Wind project. The court rejected all of the claims in the suits that would have killed the project. The court did find that two limited issues require further government consideration.

The federal government approved the project in 2010, after nine years of careful consideration and two full federal environmental reviews. Leading national and regional environmental groups—including the Natural Resources Defense Council, New England’s Conservation Law Foundation, and Mass Audubon, the region’s foremost authority on bird conservation—have long supported Cape Wind, and will continue the work to get it off the ground. In the meantime, more than a dozen other offshore wind projects are now also in development in the U.S.

The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound had previously filed 14 lawsuits against the project, all of which have ultimately failed.

A statement from NRDC Clean Energy Counsel Kit Kennedy follows:

“Cape Wind has cleared yet another hurdle. This is a victory for clean energy, and further evidence that the American offshore wind industry is taking flight.

“After more than a decade of delay and more than a dozen lawsuits largely funded by the oil and gas industry, Cape Wind has made it around the latest roadblock, with the judge agreeing the environmental review process has been thorough and transparent. We’re confident that the remaining limited issues can be addressed swiftly by the federal government. The project can now continue moving forward, so it can start delivering clean power and good jobs to the people of Massachusetts.

“In the meantime, American offshore wind power is poised to take off, with more than a dozen other projects in development from Maine to Virginia, the Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes and off the West Coast. Together, this industry can play a critical role in a cleaner, healthier, home-grown energy future for our country.”


  • The court’s full decision is online here: http://docs.nrdc.org/energy/files/ene_14031401a.pdf
  • Cape Wind could provide enough pollution-free and carbon-free power to meet 75 percent of the electricity demand on Cape Cod and the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.
  • Cape Wind is projected to create 600-1,000 jobs in Massachusetts.
  • The U.S. Interior Department gave Cape Wind a federal green light after a nine-year review process – much longer than a traditional coal power plant, which typically gets approval in just two years.
  • As part of this process, Cape Wind has already undergone two federal environmental reviews review – one from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and one from the U.S. Department of Interior. Both agencies approved the project. There were also multiple state and local environmental reviews and approvals.


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