The Block Island Wind Farm located near Block Island, Rhode Island, offers a glimpse of what’s in store for future offshore wind projects in the area. Under current plans, offshore wind will generate roughly 25 percent of Massachusetts’ annual electricity demand by the end of the decade. Credit: Unsplash Photos

A coalition of fishing industry groups that has opposed the Vineyard Wind I offshore wind development throughout its permitting history filed its latest lawsuit over the project Monday, this time suing the U.S. Interior Department and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

The Responsible Offshore Development Alliance sued the agencies and their heads in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday, alleging that they violated the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, and other federal environmental statutes in approving what is on track to be the nation’s first utility-scale offshore wind farm south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

“In its haste to implement a massive new program to generate electrical energy by constructing thousands of turbine towers offshore the eastern seaboard on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf and laying hundreds of miles of high-tension electrical cables undersea, the United States has shortcut the statutory and regulatory requirements that were enacted to protect our nation’s environmental and natural resources, its industries, and its people,” Annie Hawkins, executive director of RODA, said.

“The fishing industry supports strong action on climate change, but not at the expense of the ocean, its inhabitants, and sustainable domestic seafood.”

In September, RODA petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit to review the federal approval of the Vineyard Wind I project and then in October issued a 60-day notice of its intent to sue the federal agencies. In August, a group of Nantucket residents opposed to the Vineyard Wind I project filed their own federal lawsuit alleging that BOEM and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration failed to comply with federal law when approving the 62-turbine development.

Vineyard Wind CEO Lars Pedersen downplayed the first two suits in September when the project reached its financial close milestone. He said the suits were “reviewed as part of the due diligence process and today we managed to close and nine banks decided to invest alongside use in this project.”

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