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Court Overturns FAA Clearance For Cape Wind Project.

For those of you fighting wind turbine projects, this may have a bearing.

Court Overturns FAA Clearance For Cape Wind Project.


The Boston (MA) Globe (10/29, Abel) reported the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled Friday that the FAA "failed to adequately review how difficult it could be for pilots to navigate over 25 square miles of towering wind turbines in often fog-shrouded waters of Nantucket Sound." The federal appeals court "rejected the FAA's ruling that Cape Wind's proposed 130 turbines, each 440 feet tall, present no hazard to aviation, a finding that helped form the basis of the US Interior Department's approval of the project last year after a decade of legal challenges and delays."


The AP (10/29) reported the court "overturned the Federal Aviation Administration's ruling that Cape Wind's turbines present no danger for local air traffic." The court "vacated the government's 'no hazard' finding and sent the case back to the FAA, agreeing with plaintiffs that 'the FAA did misread its regulations.'" FAA spokesman Jim Peters said the agency was reviewing the decision.


Bloomberg News (10/29, Goossens) reported Cape Wind Associates "don't expect the FAA to change its opinion about the impact of the project on air traffic. 'We're certainly moving forward and are confident FAA will reach the same determination' as it did in its first evaluation, Cape Wind communications director Mark Rogers said today by telephone."


The Wall Street Journal (10/29, Tracy, Subscription Publication) quoted Cape Wind spokesman Mark Rodgers, who said, "The essence of today's court ruling is that the FAA needs to better explain its determination of no hazard. We are confident that after the FAA does this, that their decision will stand and we do not foresee any impact on the project's schedule in moving forward."


The Barnstable Patriot (10/29) called the decision "the first victory in a long string of courtroom defeats for opponents of the project, which has secured a host of regulatory approvals and local and state court cases over the last decade. 'At a bare minimum, it means it goes back to the FAA to start over and to adhere to their own policies and procedures and substantive analysis,' assistant town attorney Charlies McLaughlin said Oct. 28."
The Walpole (MA) Times (10/29) noted the court ruled that the FAA, "failed to supply any apparent analysis of the record of evidence concerning the wind farm's potentially adverse effects on (visual flight rule) operations."


The Boston Business Journal (10/29, ) said the ruling "focused in part on whether the FAA ignored its own regulations governing how close to structures planes should fly. In the case of Nantucket Sound, the court noted, flying below cloud cover during bad weather is of special significance. The FAA may ultimately find the risk of these dangers to be modest,' the court wrote, 'but we can not meaningfully review any such prediction because the FAA cut the process short in reliance on a misreading of its handbook and thus, as far as we can tell, never calculated the risk in the first place.'

Posted: 11/1/2011


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