July 23, 2021

Volume XI, Number 204

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Solar Farm Developers and Fishermen

The Arthashastra, a 2400 year old Sanskrit treatise on statecraft, tells us that the enemy of my enemy might be my friend.  And that ancient proverb brings us to the lawsuit filed yesterday by a Connecticut-based solar farm developer and its in house lawyer against the Federal Government seeking to enjoin the Vineyard Wind project off the Massachusetts coast.  The complaint alleges non compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act, the Outer Continental Shelf Leasing Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.  Among other things the complaint says the Vineyard Wind project will destroy the Massachusetts fishing industry.  Some would say that climate change, among other things, has already taken its toll.

Of course this isn't the first time that litigation has been used to try to stop a wind project in Massachusetts.  Sadly the last time the tactic worked.

Anyway, if you get all the way to paragraph 146 of the complaint, excerpted below, you'll see what is really driving the plaintiffs -- a concern that wind energy will be less expensive than solar energy and that will have a deleterious effect on the solar energy generators and their investors.    

If it weren't for the fact that the solar farm developer's in house lawyer happens to have a house on Martha's Vineyard, the complaint would most certainly be dismissed for lack of standing.  Now, the Federal Government will have to respond and we'll see whether in this case the Arthashastra is accurate.

The basic economic principles of supply and demand provide that significant changes in renewable energy supply will affect renewable energy’s price and, therefore, consumption levels. Increasing the supply of any normal good (including renewable energy) puts downward pressure on that good’s market price; this is a basic tenant of the law of supply and demand. N. Gregory Mankiw, Principles of Economics 74–78, 80–81 (5th ed. 2008).

©1994-2021 Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 201
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About this Author

Jeffrey R. Porter, Environmental Attorney, Mintz Levin, Risk Analysis Lawyer
Member

Jeff leads the firm’s Environmental Law Practice. He is also a member of the firm’s Policy Committee. For 23 years, he has advised clients regarding complex environmental regulatory compliance and permitting issues, including issues relating to air and water discharges and hazardous waste storage and disposal. In 2011 and 2012, the firm received the Acquisition International Legal Award for “US Environmental Law Firm of the Year.” The awards celebrate excellence and reward firms, teams and individuals for their contribution to client service, innovation and commitment to quality.

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617-348-1711
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