Court Overturns FAA Ruling On Cape Wind's Turbines
By Mike Mitchell
October 30, 2011 - On Friday the U.S. Court of Appeals
for the District of Columbia overturned the FAA May 17,
2010 ruling that Cape Wind's turbines would present no
hazard to local air traffic control and aircraft. The
court ruled that the FAA misread its own rules when the
agency came to its decision.
The Cape Wind Project, which was first proposed in 2001,
is an offshore wind mill farm that was scheduled to
build 130 wind turbines 400-foot tall by a private
developer, Cape Wind Associates in Nantucket Sound, off
of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The project would be the
first offshore wind energy project in United States
coastal waters at a projected cost of $2.5 billion.
The project received full approval by local, state and federal authorities. However, Barnstable and the Alliance to Protect Nantucket has apposed the project from its inception due to environmental concerns, spoil the charm of Nantucket Sound and pose navigational threats to aircraft. As a result both Barnstable and the Alliance to Protect Nantucket (plaintiffs) filed suit against the FAA?s May 17th ruling.
The decision by the court to vacate the FAA's "no hazard" finding will now further delay this decade old debate. The court sent the case back to the FAA on the grounds that the FAA misread its regulations. Jim Peters, FAA spokesman stated the FAA will review the courts finding and is unclear it the FAA will need will need to start the process over again.
Rodgers, Communications Director, Cape Wind stated ?the FAA has
reviewed Cape Wind for eight years and repeatedly determined
that Cape Wind did not pose a hazard to air navigation. The
essence of today?s court ruling is that the FAA needs to better
explain its Determination of No Hazard. We are confident that
after the FAA does this, that their decision will stand and we
do not foresee any impact on the project?s schedule in moving
?Really, today?s court decision doesn?t change things very much because our existing Determination of No Hazard (the 3rd we have received since we started with this project) was set to expire in just 90 days and we were going to have to re-apply at that time anyway, this lets us begin that process sooner.?
Audra Parker from
the Alliance to Protect Nantucket stated ?The U.S. Court of Appeals
today issued a resounding victory for the Cape and Islands community and
the citizens of Massachusetts. The court ruling revoked a previous no
hazard determination by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and
found that the FAA failed to consider the very real dangers and risks to
the operations and safety of the 400,000 flights that transit Nantucket
Sound each year. This represents a major setback for an already
?As a result of
today?s decision, Cape Wind cannot begin construction or proceed with
the project. The FAA case
is the first of multiple federal lawsuits challenging this poorly sited
and expensive project and is just the tip of the iceberg of the problems
the courts will consider relative to the Nantucket Sound location. ?It
is time for Cape Wind and the Department of Interior to relocate this
project to another site that will not only protect Nantucket Sound, but
allow properly sited offshore wind development in a timely way.
?After ten years,
Cape Wind continues to face legal and financial challenges, while better
and cheaper forms of green energy are widely available. The free market
has shown little or no interest in Cape Wind, the federal government has
refused to issue a loan guarantee for the project, and now a federal
court has dealt Cape Wind a major setback in rejecting the FAA?s
The Cape Wind
Project will cover a footprint of 24 square miles, 4.8 miles from
Mashpee, on the south coast of Cape Cod, and 15.8 miles from the island
town of Nantucket. The turbines would be sited 4?11 miles offshore
depending on the shoreline.
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