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Construction of controversial offshore wind project in Virginia delayed a week

While the lawsuit has had no impact on the construction timeline, Dominion Energy said the late arrival of the offshore installation vessel delayed construction until this week.

Published: May 13, 2024 1:00pm

Construction of a controversial wind farm off the coast of Virginia Beach was delayed a week due to the late arrival of a support vessel. Construction is expected to begin this week, said Dominion, which is building the wind farm.

The Heartland Institute, the Committee for Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), and the National Legal and Policy Center are suing to stop construction over concerns the federal government isn’t implementing enough protection for endangered North Atlantic right whales, including consideration of the cumulative impacts of multiple projects along the Eastern Seaboard.

Following a hearing on a preliminary injunction request earlier this month, the plaintiffs claimed they had delayed the project as a result of questions they raised at the hearing over whether or not Dominion had all the correct permits to begin driving 31-foot wide, 272-foot tall monopiles into the seabed.

Dominion denied that any delay had taken place, and the company stated in court documents that it had all the permits in hand to begin the work.

The Virginian-Pilot reports that, while the lawsuit has had no impact on the construction timeline, the late arrival of Orion, the offshore installation vessel that will drive the 1,500-ton monopiles seabed, was going to delay the pile driving until this week.

Along with sonar mapping vessel activity, the pile-driving process produces large amounts of noise, which many local environmental groups argue is harming marine wildlife, including whales.

President Joe Biden is committed to an aggressive buildout of offshore wind over the next several years, and the federal agencies carrying out the president’s agenda insist there is no science showing that whales are not being properly protected.

Independent studies, however, have found that the mitigation measures taken to protect the whales are inadequate, and therefore, an uptick in whale deaths occurring at the same time as increases in offshore wind development is no coincidence.

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