Interior defends Virginia offshore wind farm in court

By Niina H. Farah | 05/07/2024 07:12 AM EDT

The department and project developers said plans are in place to protect the endangered North Atlantic right whale from harm during construction.

Wind turbines in Block Island Sound east of Montauk, New York.

Offshore wind turbines. Bruce Bennett/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration and the developer of a $9.8 billion wind farm off of Virginia Beach, Virginia, assured a federal court Friday that the project has all necessary approvals, amid claims that construction would harm the endangered North Atlantic right whale.

The joint court filing from the Interior Department and Dominion Energy comes in response to a request to halt work on the massive Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project, which is slated to include 176 turbines and is the largest project of its kind currently under development in the United States.

Dominion and Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management filed their response following an order from Judge Loren AliKhan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking clarity on whether NOAA Fisheries — which handles Endangered Species Act consultations for marine life — had approved mitigation plans to protect the vulnerable right whale.


NOAA Fisheries “provided its final concurrence on May 3, 2024 for [Dominion Energy’s] Construction Mitigation and Monitoring Plan,” the joint brief said. It said that federal agencies as of Friday have cleared the company to begin pile-driving foundations for turbines.