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Charting a Course for the First U.S. Offshore Wind Farm

In Cape Wind’s decade-long fight to obtain regulatory clearance for the first offshore wind farm in the U.S., BakerHostetler’s most recent legal victory clears the way for developers to complete financing and blazes a trail for future wind project developers.

In a recent decision, the U.S. District Court rejected requests made in four lawsuits from project opponents to withdraw the permits issued by Department of the Interior for the lease, construction, and operation of a 130-turbine wind farm proposed across 25 square miles in Nantucket Sound. The failed lawsuits challenged Cape Wind’s permitting approvals by federal agencies on the grounds of the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Birds Treaty Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, and the Coast Guard and the Maritime Transportation Act of 2006.

Earlier this year, a victory in Federal Court upheld the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) fourth approval of the Cape Wind project. BakerHostetler defeated arguments made by project opponents who claimed that the “No Hazard Determination” issued by the FAA lacked substantial evidence to draw the conclusions made in the report.

BakerHostetler has helped Cape Wind developers consistently overcome regulatory hurdles and a series of legal challenges. Our attorneys have successfully represented the developers in seven lawsuits brought by project opponents and have helped Cape Wind navigate 17 rigorous federal and state permitting reviews—many, the first of their kind—generating an administrative record of 500,000 pages. The project—and its opposition—has garnered national attention, including significant media coverage, a book, and movie about the project.

Cape Wind’s groundbreaking progress will serve as guidance to future developers on the type of data and investigations needed to get their permits approved, while also showing regulatory agencies the types of analyses they’ll need to conduct for their permitting decisions to be upheld by the courts.

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