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Judge denies injunction to halt Virginia offshore wind construction

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(The Center Square) — A federal judge at the United States District Court for the District of Columbia has denied a preliminary injunction filed against Dominion Energy to halt construction of the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Project.

In March, a coalition of three conservative groups filed a lawsuit against the utility company and several federal agencies, claiming the agencies had issued an incomplete biological opinion clearing the project for construction. The agencies were legally obligated to issue a more comprehensive biological opinion, the plaintiffs alleged, assessing the threat Virginia’s offshore wind farm posed to the endangered North Atlantic right whale in conjunction with all the other East Coast offshore wind farms whose operation and installation is now being pursued.

The groups filed the injunction on April 29 – the day before they believed construction was to begin.

Though Judge Loren AliKhan ruled that at least one of the plaintiffs likely had standing to bring the case, she maintained they did not sufficiently demonstrate the imminent irreparable harm a preliminary injunction is meant to deflect.

“While Plaintiffs have shown a substantial likelihood of standing, they have not demonstrated they will suffer irreparable harm in the absence of a preliminary injunction or administrative stay,” AliKhan wrote in her memorandum opinion.

“There is a ‘high standard for irreparable injury’ when considering a request for preliminary injunction or stay,” she continued, citing a 2006 D.C. Circuit Court case, and that injury “‘must be certain and great; it must be actual and not theoretical.’”

To AliKhan, the injury the plaintiffs warned construction could cause to the right whale had been addressed in the plans and strategies set forth by the defendants—including five mitigation plans Dominion agreed to implement to protect endangered species—and was too speculative to warrant an injunction now.

Despite the injunction being denied, the lawsuit is still ongoing.

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