Activists Sue Biden Over Wind Energy Project That Could Threaten Endangered Whales

By: Alex Trent | Published: Mar 27, 2024

A Biden Administration wind energy project is under attack from conservative activist groups in a federal lawsuit filed to block its construction. One of the primary motivations for the lawsuit comes from a dispute around the impact the project will have on North Atlantic Whales.

The lawsuit asserts that the windmills the Biden Administration wants to build will have a negative environmental impact on this already endangered species.

Federal Lawsuit

The lawsuit is 61 pages long and was filed in the U.S. District Court of Columbia. The plaintiffs of the complaint were the activist groups Constructive Tomorrow, the Heartland Institute, and the National Legal and Policy Center.

A 2021 portrait of President Biden wearing a suit and smiling in front of a US flag.

The White House/Wikimedia Commons

The suit targets top officials in the Biden administration from the Interior Department, the Commerce Department, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and the National Marine Fisheries Service.


Virginia Project

What the lawsuit hopes to stop is a Virginia wind energy construction project that is set to start up on May 1st. The project is headed by Dominion, a Virignia-based energy company that was also named in the suit.

An offshore wind project in the waters of the US.

Source: Shaun Dakin/Unsplash

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs describe the project as spanning over 25 miles of coastline in Virginia in an effort to create over 176 new wind turbines taller than the Washington Monument.

Counsel Comments

Paul Kamenar, the counsel for the National Legal and Policy Center, gave comments to Fox News Digital contextualizing the lawsuit.

An aerial view of a series of wind turbines perched atop rolling hills, with a winding road cutting through the landscape

Source: Nuno Marques/Unsplash

“On one hand, the Biden administration says you have to have renewable energy, but in the process, the windmills have an environmental impact, not only on whales but on birds that get chopped up by the windmills,” Kamenar said.

Several Issues

While the environmental impact seems to be the primary concern,  there are other considerations as well. Kamenar goes on to outline several concerns that the lawsuit plaintiffs have with the wind project.

A wind energy turbine overlooking a field of sunflowers.

Source: Gustavo Quepon/Unsplash

“Our position is that it’s a larger issue than the environment, but relying on windmills is also an economic issue that will cost consumers and make energy less reliable,” said Kamenar.

Aggressive Campaign

In the lawsuit complaint, it is alleged that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has been overly aggressive in developing offshore wind projects.

Adult and baby humpback whale swimming near the surface


“The United States government, led by defendant Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), has embarked on a comprehensive and aggressive campaign to develop as many as 30 industrial-scale offshore winds (OSW) energy projects along the Atlantic coast, from Maine to North Carolina,” the suit says.


Threatened Whales

The North Atlantic Right Whale has been considered an endangered species since the 1970s. Reportedly, there are only 360 individual whales of this type remaining. They have been victims of intense commercial whaling in the past that was only halted after the passage of the Endangered Species Act.

Humpback whale tail breaking out of water surface

Source: Pixabay

The American government has been attempting to rebuild this whale population as they struggle against striking sea-faring vessels and getting tangled in fishing equipment.


Sudden Whale Deaths

Just last year, an unusually high number of North Atlantic right whales and humpback whales were discovered dead on the northeast coastlines of America. 

A whale breaches the water and is seen above the surface.

Source: Moria Brown/Wikimedia

This discovery alarmed researchers who were already worried about the critically low numbers of endangered whale species in Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Virginia. Some environmental activists have taken to blaming wind turbines for this sudden spike in whale deaths.


Clean Ocean Action Blames Wind Turbines

Environmental group Clean Ocean Action places the blame for the deaths on the construction of several recent wind projects. They asserted that construction noises can cause permanent damage to a whale’s inner ear and that government scrutiny around the projects has been inadequate.

Rough waves seen in the Atlantic Ocean in the daytime.

Source: Aaron Burden/Unsplash

“Why should offshore wind get a pass on scrutiny to ensure marine ecosystem protection, especially for endangered and protected species?” executive director Cindy Zipf said.


Government Denies Claims

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has categorically denied that wind turbines were the cause of these whale deaths in the past.

A whale breaching the water to do a flip in Boston, USA.

Source: Todd Cravens/Unsplash

“There is no evidence to support speculation that noise resulting from wind development-related site characterisation surveys could potentially cause mortality of whales, and no specific links between recent large whale mortalities and currently ongoing surveys,” they said.


Conservative Angle on Wind Turbines

Conservative groups and Republicans have jumped onto the criticism of wind turbines from an environmental angle as a way to attack President Joe Biden. Even former president Donald Trump brought up this talking point at a rally in September.

Donald Trump in a red tie pointing to someone off stage

Source: Wikimedia Commons

“They are washing up ashore,” Trump said. “You wouldn’t see that once a year – now they are coming up on a weekly basis. The windmills are driving them crazy. They are driving the whales, I think, a little batty.”


No Merit

A spokesperson for Dominion named Jeremy Slayton denied any validity of the claims of the lawsuit in comments to Fox Digital.

The image depicts a serene offshore wind farm with multiple wind turbines standing tall above the calm blue sea

Source: Nicholas Doherty/Unsplash

“The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has done an extraordinarily thorough environmental review of the project and carefully considered potential impacts to marine wildlife and the environment,” Slayton said. “The overwhelming consensus of federal agencies and scientific organizations is that offshore wind does not adversely impact marine life. We’ve put in place strong environmental protections for this project, and are confident the North Atlantic right whale will be protected.”