On May 11, 2021, the United States Government approved the Vineyard Wind project, the nation’s first commercial-scale offshore wind project. The finished product will consist of 62 wind turbines located 15 miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. It is expected to generate clean, renewable, and affordable energy for over 400,000 homes and businesses by 2023.
While the U.S. has since approved the Inflation Reduction Act, their biggest climate law yet, the Vineyard Wind Project, is no stranger to opposition. Last year, the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) sued the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) on behalf of local commercial fishermen for prioritizing offshore wind energy development over the environmental review and for failing to consider alternative sites that wouldn’t harm the commercial fishing industry.
The TPPF describes itself as a non-profit dedicated to defending liberty, personal responsibility, and free enterprise in Texas and the U.S. through education, academic research, and outreach. In this case, Seafreeze Shoreside, a local seafood wholesaler in the area, found the TPPF and reached out for support. Many fishing businesses rely on the specific region for most of their annual catch, yet the BOEM approved this project even though the record of the decision states, "While Vineyard Wind is not authorized to prevent free access to the entire wind development area, due to the placement of the turbines it is likely that the entire 75,614-acre area will be abandoned by commercial fisheries due to difficulties with navigation."
So how is this relevant now?
This week, the New York Times published an article putting the TPPF on display for funding this lawsuit. They describe them as a non-profit organization backed by gas and oil companies as well as Republican donors. They go further to paint the TPPF in a negative light, portraying them as a power-hungry force that will stop at nothing to keep oil, gas, and coal companies in business. According to the New York Times, "the group’s executives have sought to convince lawmakers and the public that a transition away from oil, gas, and coal would harm Americans" through influence campaigns, misinformation, and the promotion of dubious narratives on current events.
While this may be true, it’s hard to ignore the arguments of the TPPF and the commercial fishermen. At what point does the promised reward of renewable energy become too much of a risk for the economy and the livelihoods of hard-working people?
The TPPF is not the only one that has combatted Vineyard Wind. In February 2022, the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA) sued the Biden administration for violating a number of environmental laws in the approval of the project. Though RODA supports action on climate change, they do not support this action at the expense of the ocean, its inhabitants, and sustainable domestic seafood.
With the Biden administration ambitiously trying to reach its goal of constructing 30,000 megawatts of U.S. offshore wind by 2030, these are issues that need to be discussed and met with more concern from the public and lawmakers in the future.
Written by: Carley Kershaw, The GCMG Agency, Social Media Coordinator