Last week, IPR filed a Motion for Summary Judgment in the D.C. District Court on behalf of its client, the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah). The Tribe challenges the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management’s (BOEM) authorization of Cape Wind’s offshore wind farm on top of the Tribe’s ancient ancestral homeland. If constructed, the project would consist of 130 turbines across a 46-square-mile area in Nantucket Sound.
In the brief, the Tribe alleges that BOEM violated the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). The Tribe argues that under NEPA, BOEM was required to analyze the effects of Cape Wind’s project in a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) after Nantucket Sound became eligible for listing on the NPS National Register of Historic Places. The Tribe further argues that BOEM violated section 4332(2)(C) of NEPA by failing to take a “hard look” at the Project’s effects on the Tribe’s traditional practice of subsistence fishing. Finally, the Tribe contends that BOEM violated Section 106 of NHPA because the agency disregarded the Tribe’s specialized expertise regarding cultural and historic sites and failed to meaningfully examine alternatives, including avoidance and mitigation measures, that would have responded to the Project’s adverse effects on those sites.
Because of these violations, the Tribe has asked the court to declare BOEM’s decision authorizing the project “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law,” in violation of 5 U.S.C. § 706(2), and to set it aside, pending the agency’s completion of an SEIS that analyzes the Project’s effects on subsistence fishing and the Sound, and of further consultation with the Tribe regarding the Project’s adverse effects on historic resources.
The defendant’s response is due November 29, 2012.