A seasonal Edgartown resident is challenging a federal court’s ruling on his lawsuit that tried to halt Vineyard Wind, the offshore wind energy development in construction south of the Island. 

Thomas Melone, who owns a home on the Vineyard and is the president of a solar energy company, filed a lawsuit in 2021 against the National Marine Fisheries Service, claiming several agencies were violating the Endangered Species Act when they approved the 62 turbines. That case was dismissed by U.S. District Court judge Indira Talwani in August. 

On Monday, Mr. Melone filed a brief with the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals, claiming the National Marine Fisheries Service did not meet all of the federal requirements when it approved Vineyard Wind, and that some of its interpretations of statutes are “unreasonable.” In his brief, he also contended the U.S. District Court erroneously allowed Vineyard Wind to be involved in his lawsuit.

Mr. Melone’s case centers on the fisheries service’s approval of Vineyard Wind’s “incidental harassment authorization.” The authorization from the federal government allows projects to disturb certain species, which in Vineyard Wind’s case are whales, turtles and other marine animals. 

The National Marine Fisheries Service grants authorizations if the agency determined the project’s will have a negligible impact on the species. The 62-turbine project was allowed to disturb the patterns of, but not injure, 20 right whales. 

Mr. Melone new appeal claims the court improperly deferred to the fisheries service, never defined a specific geographical region for the harassment authorization, and said the fisheries service’s policy for what constitutes a “small number” of affected animals is overly broad. 

“NMFS never made a specific determination as required by the statute of whether the take it was authorizing in the Vineyard Wind [incidental harassment authorization]... constituted a ‘small number’ for the specific species of the North Atlantic Right Whale,” he wrote in his brief filed with the court. 

A spokesperson for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which the fisheries service falls under, declined to comment on the case Monday, citing the pending litigation. 

Several legal challenges have tried to halt construction of Vineyard Wind, expected to be the first commercial-scale offshore wind energy farm in the U.S., but all have been dismissed. 

Vineyard Wind completed its first turbine earlier this fall and said it could start generating power before the end of the year