Cape May Court House, NJ: The County of Cape May at the regular meeting of the Board of Commissioners on June 13, 2023, unanimously approved the engagement of two powerful and experienced law firms as part of the County’s commitment to utilize all reasonable resources to contest the installation of hundreds of offshore windmills off Cape May County beaches by the Danish offshore wind corporation, Orsted.
The County’s efforts with regard to offshore wind have been led and coordinated since 2020 by former New Jersey Superior Court Judge Michael J. Donohue. The County also engaged the law office of Cultural Heritage Partners based in Virginia to defend historic resources in the County. Now, the County has added the Washington, D.C. based Marzulla Law Firm. Marzulla specializes in challenging federal regulatory decisions and will be reviewing the multiple federal permits being sought by Orsted and will recommend to the County any potential legal challenges that may arise from the federal permit processes. The County has also engaged the services of attorney Anthony Bocchi of the law firm of Cullen – Dykman, with offices in New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., to review and challenge the permits issued to Orsted by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The law offices of Blaney, Donohue & Weinberg based in Avalon, New Jersey, are already litigating on behalf of the County in the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court over approvals issued to Orsted by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.
We had hoped that both state and federal regulatory agencies would actually do their jobs and subject Orsted’s Ocean Wind project to the same type of scrutiny that they subject our homeowners and small businesses to when it comes to environmental permitting,” Donohue said. “Anyone who has ever attempted to undertake a waterfront construction project in Cape May County knows how these regulatory agencies make us jump through hoops and over rising hurdles, sometimes for years. But on the Orsted project, it looks like these environmental regulatory agencies have fast tracked their approvals and skipped important steps that are in place to protect the environment, including marine mammals. With the addition of these expert law firms, the County’s legal team is prepared to fight on every available front to challenge the state and federal approvals being issued to Orsted.”
The County will immediately be demanding a hearing on recently issued NJDEP permits. As federal permits are issued, the County will review each of them and likely challenge the approvals for skipping required steps in the regulatory review process.
“We still believe that the state and federal governments have failed to address the continuing deaths of whales and dolphins and other marine mammals,” Cape May County Commission Director Len Desiderio said. “If Orsted’s surveying equipment is leading to the deaths of the whales and dolphins, one can only imagine how many more will die if offshore construction of hundreds of windmills takes place. The plan to create a superhighway of windmills off of our beaches should be halted until studies can be completed to answer the questions about the whales and other serious negative environmental and economic impacts that are likely to occur. And if those studies show that our losses will be severe, then these windmills should not be built. Right now, Orsted has made Cape May County part of a mass experiment and they have no idea how bad the results will be and, frankly, they don’t seem to care. Our serious legal team will be looking for avenues to stop these projects from damaging our environment and our economy.”