February 16, 2017 — A federal judge has denied a bid by commercial fishermen to stop the lease of the nearly 80,000-acre New York Wind Energy Area to Statoil, ruling the fishermen failed to prove imminent harm, and that the project is still subject to years of review before construction.
“The court maintains its authority to ultimately enjoin the lease in this litigation if necessary,” U.S. District Court Judge Tanya S. Chutkan wrote in her opinion. The fishing industry argument that Statoil Wind US LLC will have made significant investments in the project – establishing property rights – during the Bureau of Offshore Energy review is not compelling enough to justify a preliminary injunction against granting the lease, Chutkan found.
Statoil’s investment – including a record-setting $42.5 million bid for the lease – is being made with full knowledge that it may not get approvals or ever build the project, Chutkan wrote. Fishermen said they will continue to pursue the case on merits.
“Getting a preliminary injunction granted is difficult, given the high standards that the court applies,” said Mayor Kirk Larson of Barnegat Light, N.J., one of the port towns that joined the Fisheries Survival Fund and other industry advocates in the case. “But our case will continue, and we are confident that we will succeed on the merits.”