Two women, friends and colleagues for many years, have joined together to fight the offshore wind farms that threatened Atlantic fisheries—and our nation’s food supplies. TPPF represents them in a lawsuit against the federal government. Meghan Lapp tells her story.
I first became involved with offshore wind even before working at Seafreeze. Prior to my current job I worked in New Bedford, Mass., building commercial fishing nets (trawls) and gear. As such, I became intimately familiar with various fishery issues and operations, as we were manufacturing gear for fishing vessels from Maine to North Carolina. At that time, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) began holding meetings in New Bedford regarding plans to lease a massive area of the ocean off of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, in what eventually became the Massachusetts/Rhode Island Wind Energy Area where the Vineyard Wind lease is located. I attended meetings as I was able and voiced concerns, because I knew if the construction process moved forward, it would be devastating for commercial fishing, fishermen, and commercial fishing businesses. I knew how trawl vessels operate and I knew it wouldn’t be possible in a wind farm.
In 2015, I came to work for Seafreeze, to represent our company and vessels at various governmental and regulatory levels. Right out of the gate, the issue of offshore wind consumed my time, because it poses the biggest threat to commercial fishing in the history of the United States and I recognized that. There are leases all along the coast. It is the potential extinction of a 400-year-old renewable resource industry, so I started doing everything I could.
I went to BOEM open house meetings, BOEM port/state meetings, various state Task Force meetings, BOEM stakeholder phone calls, state agency meetings, public hearing meetings, U.S. Coast Guard meetings, developer meetings, BOEM presentations at Fishery Management Council meetings, etc. I raised the same issues we are raising in the lawsuit at every single one. I reached out to leaders at the local, state, and federal levels, and even when our representatives raised concerns, BOEM just continued to steamroll us, never giving us any answers on questions we raised over and over for seven years.
BOEM approved the project regardless of impact to U.S. lives, businesses, and U.S. food production. They ignored what they knew was true. BOEM approved the project and manipulated its process in favor of the developer knowing that it would eliminate fisheries, compromise navigation, jeopardize human safety on the sea, and interfere with the radars that keep us safe. In so doing, they violated the law that was established to protect our rights as pre-existing ocean users. It’s unacceptable.
Finally, there was no other option but to sue. Because Vineyard Wind stands as the first large scale wind project ever approved in federal waters in the history of the United States, this project will set the precedent for every other wind project being planned on every coast in this country, forever changing the future of our oceans. Once these projects are in, there’s no going back.
There is nothing standing in the way of government overreach but you—the American citizen. You cannot leave it to the “professionals” or take the attitude that “they” will do something to address the problem. You are “they.” If you stand back and do nothing, there is nothing holding it back. We are a nation of “We the People.” Our country was founded by ordinary citizens who took a stand for what was right. That is the only way we keep it.