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A group of fishermen agreed to support a wind farm proposed for Nantucket Sound in Massachusetts, dropping a federal lawsuit against the project.
The Martha’s Vineyard/Dukes County Fishermen’s Association reached a settlement with Cape Wind Associates LLC, Warren Doty, president of the association, said today on a conference call with reporters. Terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed. The fishermen had claimed in the suit the project would threaten fishing grounds.
The agreement removes a barrier for the 468-megawatt wind farm that has been in the works for more than a decade. It faces other hurdles, including additional pending lawsuits, an approval from the Federal Aviation Administration that must be reviewed and opposition from the Kennedy family, which owns a compound in the region.
“Instead of being on different ends of the fence, we’re going to work together to determine which areas are open to fishing, what areas will be successful for different kinds of fishing and how to make that fishing safe and available to all fishermen,” Doty said.
The Massachusetts Fishermen’s Partnership, which says it’s the state’s largest commercial fishing organization, said in an e-mailed statement today that it remains opposed to the wind farm.
Financing for Cape Wind “has begun,” Mark Rodgers, a Cape Wind spokesman, said on the call. “We’ll have an announcement in the future when we’ve completed it.”
He said construction may begin next year, and the project may be operational by 2015. More than three-quarters of the power that will be generated already has been sold.
The fishermen’s group and Jonathan Mayhew, a fisherman on the island, sued the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar in June 2010, claiming that the agency’s decision to approve the wind farm violated federal laws.
“Development of the Cape Wind Energy Project will cause an effective closure of prime, historic fishing grounds on Horseshoe Shoal,” the plaintiffs said in the complaint, filed in federal court in Washington.
Mayhew is a fisherman who relies on squid fishing on Horseshoe Shoal for his livelihood, according to the complaint. Court papers state that his ancestors came to America on the Mayflower and have earned a living from the sea since the colonial era, according to court filings.
The stipulation to dismiss the claims was filed today in Washington, according to court records.
This case is Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility v. Bromwich, 10-01067, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
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