By Mark Rodgers, Cape Wind
Cape Wind once again has defeated the latest efforts of opponents to block America's first offshore wind farm. Federal Judge Richard Stearns last night dismissed project opponents' latest lawsuit which challenged Cape Wind's Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with NSTAR. The District Court's decision rejected all claims against the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, NSTAR and Cape Wind.
Judge Stearns noted in his decision that the lawsuit would violate the 11th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States that gives states immunity from being sued for past actions in Federal Court. Judge Stearns also rejected the premise of the opponents' lawsuit: "The allegation that DPU dictated that NSTAR procure power from Cape Wind at a specified price is misleading and ultimately untrue." While Judge Stearns identified the 11th Amendment as sufficient grounds to dismiss the lawsuit, he noted it could also have been dismissed on various other grounds.
Judge Stearns concluded his Decision by observing:
"But in this case, the Governor, the Legislature, the relevant public agencies, and numerous courts have reviewed and approved the project and the PPA with NSTAR and have done so according to and within the confines of the law. There comes a point at which the right to litigate can become a vexatious abuse of the democratic process. For that reason, I have dealt with this matter as expeditiously as possible."
Cape Wind President Jim Gordon said, "This important legal victory provides further momentum for Cape Wind to secure project financing and produce the energy, economic and environmental benefits to the region and the United States by launching a domestic offshore wind industry."
Bill Koch, Chairman and largest funder of the opposition group, and a coal and petroleum coke billionaire, has stated publicly that his organization's strategy is "delay, delay, delay" and to try to use the courts to serve his strategy. Taxpayers have had to bear a considerable cost of staff time at agencies and courts defending against Koch's litigation.
Today's decision marks the 26th failed legal action brought by project opponents.
George Bachrach, President of the Environmental Leagues of Massachusetts, said, "It is obvious that project opponents have just been using the courts to delay this important project and to try to disrupt their efforts at securing financing; it is gratifying to see, for the 26th time, their lawsuit get rejected." Bachrach continued, "I call on the Town of Barnstable to stop taking Bill Koch's money and filing these frivolous lawsuits and appeals and recognize the benefits of mitigating climate change and the new jobs that Cape Wind will provide. The Cape and Islands are most susceptible to the impacts of climate change, Barnstable can be a leader here -- it's time to work together for a better future."
The case citation is: Town Of Barnstable, Massachusetts, et al., v. Ann G. Berwick, et al., Civil Action No. 14-cv-10148-RGS, in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
Click here to read Judge Stearn's Decision
Click here to review Cape Wind's Litigation History