By Walter Brooks
In an important victory for the United States Army Corp of Engineers, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has affirmed a prior Federal District Court decision denying the lawsuit filed by the â??Alliance to Protect Nantucket Soundâ? that had challenged the legal authority of the USACE in granting Cape Wind a permit for its Scientific Data Tower in Nantucket Sound.
Score to date:
Cape Wind 4, Alliance 0
Todayâ??s Federal Appeals Court decision marks the fourth time a federal court has made a ruling concerning Cape Windâ??s Scientific Data Tower. Cape Wind has received a favorable outcome in each of these four rulings.
Many in the environmental community feel that nothing is being gained by these delays other than increase the cost of the project when it is finally built. For an example, during the four years of the obstructing moves by the Alliance and others, the cost of steel has doubled.
The court decision rejected the Alliance claim that the Army Corps of Engineers permitting authority was limited to structures used for minerals extraction, with the court decision stating that, â??â?¦legislative history reveals, with exceptional clarity, Congressâ?? intent that Section 10 authority under OCSLA [the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act] not be restricted to structures related to mineral extraction.â?
Cape Wind President Jim Gordon welcomed the news of the courtâ??s decision, â??This decision affirms the permitting authority of the Corps of Engineers and it removes another roadblock to the day when the citizens of Cape Cod and the region begin to enjoy the public interest benefits of cleaner air, new jobs and reduced reliance on foreign energy that this wind farm will provide.â?
US Supreme Court decision
Last month the United States Supreme Court rejected the request by another citizen group to determine whether state or federal officials should have primary authority over the Sound.
"For better or worse, the Alliance tried to litigate the same issue that will be at stake on the whole project later. It was their decision to do that, and they have to live with the case law they created."
A live data feed from the Scientific Data Tower on Horseshoe Shoal is provided on Cape Windâ??s website. The sate tower shows wind speed, wind direction, and the quantity of clean energy Cape Wind would be producing if it were built today.
Mr. Gordon added, "It's a victory for Cape Wind and another loss for the Alliance. The courts have affirmed that the Army Corps of Engineers has the authority to permit the data tower, and they did it in the proper manner."
Seth Kaplan, an attorney with the Conservation Law Foundation commented "For better or worse, the Alliance tried to litigate the same issue that will be at stake on the whole project later. It was their decision to do that, and they have to live with the case law they created."