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Nantucket Group Sues To Stop Massive Wind Farm, Claiming Threat To Endangered Right Whales

NANTUCKET (CBS/AP) -- A federal lawsuit is aiming to stop the construction of thousands of wind turbines off the Massachusetts coast.

The "ACK Residents Against Turbines" who filed the lawsuit said the proposed Vineyard Wind project poses a threat to the critically endangered North Atlantic Right Whale.

"The whales belong to all of us and with fewer than 400, of which there are fewer than 100 breeding females left, each one is worth protecting. The people of Nantucket have a long history with these whales and we have done so much recently to protect this species," said group co-founder Mary Chalke in a statement. "It would be a tragedy to see all of them lost in order to build an industrial offshore development."

The project is set to be the first utility-scale wind power development in federal waters.

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which are named in the suit, declined to comment, citing the pending litigation. Vineyard Wind, a joint project of a Danish company and a U.S. subsidiary of the Spanish energy giant, Iberdrola, also declined to comment.

But the American Clean Power Association, a group that represents renewable energy companies, stressed the project has undergone a lengthy environmental review, permitting and public comment process.

"It appears this lawsuit is being brought by residents motivated by aesthetic concerns as much as anything alleged in their complaint," Tom Vinson, a vice president with the association, said in a statement.

Approved in May, the nearly $3 billion, 800-megawatt project would be the first utility-scale wind power development in federal waters. It's slated to become operational in 2023 and create enough electricity to power 400,000 homes.

The project and Ocean Wind, a proposed 1,100-megawatt offshore wind project off New Jersey, are keystones in the Biden administration's push to grow offshore wind as a way to fight climate change and create jobs.

The projects could be joined by as many as five other large scale projects totaling more than 2,000 turbines across 2,000 square miles (5,180 square kilometers) of ocean, according to ACK Residents Against Turbines.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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