Federal judge clears Mass. offshore wind project

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging what could become the first offshore wind farm in the United States, ruling that the constitution prohibits the opponents from suing the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The plaintiffs — the Town of Barnstable, three local businesses and an ad-hoc opposition group — sued the state in January, saying it illegally pushed electric utility NStar to buy power from the planned Cape Wind farm, the Boston Globe reported. NStar has agreed to buy 27.5 percent of the project’s power.

Judge Richard Stearns of the District Court for Massachusetts dismissed the case Friday and sharply criticized Cape Wind’s opponents for repeatedly bringing lawsuits against it after they lose in court. Most recently, a Washington, D.C., court ruled in Cape Wind’s favor on a number of challenges to its federal permits.

Stearns called the opponents an “obdurate band of aggrieved residents of Cape Cod and the Islands and accused them of a “vexatious abuse of the democratic process.” He ruled that state officials cannot be sued in federal court for their past actions.

Cape Wind celebrated the ruling, saying it is the latest of 26 legal wins for the project. It hopes to start construction on the 454-megawatt farm within the next year.