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Dominion Energy wind project construction delayed as federal judge considers injunction

right whale
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Construction on a wind project off the Atlantic Coast by Dominion Energy has been delayed by a federal judge. Pile driving was scheduled to begin this week.

Judge Loren L. AliKhan convened an expedited status conference hearing in response to a coalition of three public interest groups: The Heartland Institute, the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow and the National Legal and Policy Center, according to a news release from the coalition.

The groups are suing Dominion and the Biden Administration claiming they have not done the legally required research to determine the project won’t harm the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale. Only 350 North Atlantic right whales remain with only 70 females capable of weaning a calf.

In Monday’s hearing, Judge AliKhan questioned Dominion Energy on approval by the federal government for its five mitigation plans, according to the groups.

The judge ordered Dominion to file a status report on approval by this Friday, May 3.

She also ordered Dominion and the Biden Administration to file their response to the coalition’s lawsuit by May 6 and for the coalition to file its response by May 9.

The judge is expected to rule on the preliminary injunction shortly thereafter, the news release stated.

According to The Heartland Institute, the Biden Administration has given fast-track approval to dozens of wind projects off the East Coast with the goal of producing 30 gigawatts of electricity by 2030.

A dead North Atlantic right whale was found near Virginia Beach on March 30. It was a female accompanied by a newborn calf. That marked the fourth documented North Atlantic Right Whale death in U.S. waters this year. Experts do not expect the calf to survive without the support of its mother.

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Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.