The Daily Caller News Foundation – Nino Cambria on February 28, 2023
- New Jersey environmental activist groups are fed up with the Biden administration refusing to even investigate potential links to offshore winds and recent whale deaths.
- Nonprofit environmental groups Save LBI, Clean Ocean Action and Protect Our Coast NJ, based in coastal towns, have spent months trying to get the administration to place a moratorium on offshore wind projects until the whale deaths are thoroughly investigated.
- “I want to emphasize the word, ‘could,’ the offshore wind turbines could be causing the whale deaths, let’s have an investigation and see if that’s the cause,” Bob Stern, president of Save Long Beach Island and former director of the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Compliance, told the DCNF.
New Jersey environmental groups told the Daily Caller News Foundation they are fed up with the Biden administration refusing to even investigate potential links to offshore winds and recent whale deaths.
Nonprofit groups in the state’s coastal towns have spent months trying to get the administration to place a moratorium on offshore wind projects until a thorough, transparent investigation can be completed to see if there is a connection to recent whale strandings. Since December 2022, over 20 whales have washed up along east coast shores near survey sites for future offshore wind projects in an unusual mortality rate, according to NOAA.
Of particular concern is the endangered North Atlantic right whale, which, with less than 350 remaining, is one of the most endangered whale species in the world, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries.
“The right whales come from New England and come through New Jersey as part of their migratory cycle each year, and these turbines are in their path,” said Bob Stern, president of the nonpartisan, grassroots ocean and marine life advocacy group Save Long Beach Island and former director of the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Compliance.
“Our approach to ocean energy and marine mineral development comes with our unwavering dedication to responsible stewardship, which includes protection of America’s ocean environment and marine life,” the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) said in a renewable energy fact sheet provided to the DCNF. The sheet further states that protections like exclusion zones and protected species observers are utilized to ensure the protection of marine life like whales.
“Of the whales examined, about 40 percent had evidence of human interaction, either ship strike or entanglement,” said Lauren Gaches, director of public affairs at NOAA, in a Jan. 18 press conference.
But environmental nonprofits are not satisfied with these protections or the ship strike explanation and believe there may be an indirect connection between wind turbines and the killing of whales.
“We haven’t received any substantial responses to our concerns about the turbines indirectly killing the whales,” Stern said.
A January Save LBI report shows that the noise from future wind sites is disorienting the whales’ hearing, which could lead to collisions with ships. Alternatively, to avoid the noise, they may be driven off their migration course and be separated from their families.
Save LBI does not claim that the project sites are definitely linked to the whale strandings. “I want to emphasize the word ‘could,’ the offshore wind turbines could be causing the whale deaths, let’s have an investigation and see if that’s the cause,” Stern said.
Two other grassroots New Jersey ocean advocacy groups, Clean Ocean Action and Protect Our Coast NJ, joined numerous organizations in a January letter to President Joe Biden calling for an immediate moratorium on offshore wind projects.
“The low-frequency sonar used in the windmills is causing deafness in the whales. It’s one of those things that science is only going to pick up on years after the fact, in the meantime, whales are being killed,” James Lovgren, board of trustee member of Clean Ocean Action and retired commercial fisherman, told the DCNF. “You have to pause and ask, ‘why are we doing this?’”
“As a third-generation fisherman, I can tell you that if this project continues, we’ll be out of business within the next three years.” Lovgren added.
“We’re paying more money for less energy and in the process whales are being killed and they’re destroying the beauty of the Jersey Shore,” Suzanne Hornick, co-founder of Protect Our Coast NJ, told the DCNF.
“This is a 100% non-partisan issue. We have volunteers from every walk of life, different political and religious affiliations, racial diversity, we just to save the whales, our ocean and our shore,” Hornick said.
“We handle all the donations, we just use their system. We’re only getting around $25-30 in donations. Fossil fuel donations would be a lot bigger,” Hornick said. “Clean Ocean Action keeps their nose clean, we don’t take money from fossil fuels or any other industry,” Lovgren said.
Meanwhile, members of Congress are taking up the cause. On Feb. 17, Republican New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith introduced a bill requiring a Governmental Accountability Office (GOA) review into the environmental approval process of these projects, according to a press release.
“It is extremely disappointing that the serious concerns and questions raised by me, local officials, commercial and recreational fishermen, citizens and environmentalists over the efficacy and transparency of the environmental review process for these massive offshore wind projects have been dismissed by the Biden Administration and Governor Murphy,” Smith said in a statement to the DCNF.
Republican New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew will hold public hearings on the offshore wind permitting process beginning March 16.
“This district hearing will be the first of several efforts the Congressman will be working on to publicly highlight these concerns, raise questions, and seek further legislative solutions to ensure that any attempt at offshore wind development does not harm local environments, destroy local economies or harm generational industries such as fishing,” a spokesperson for Van Drew told the DCNF.
“President Biden, through Executive Order, has set incredibly aggressive deadlines for how much energy needs to be output by offshore wind. Wind farms are also the real embodiment of the Green New Deal, they want to show off these massive wind farms and say, ‘Look, we’re saving the planet,’ when in reality, these wind farms are being built on top of sensitive environs like the Cold Pool, in the middle of whale and bird migration routes,” Van Drew’s spokesperson added.
In the last week, 30 New Jersey mayors signed a letter calling for an immediate moratorium on all offshore wind plans until a thorough investigation is conducted by federal and state authorities, according to Midjersey.news.
“The people of New Jersey deserve to know the truth about the environmental review process that was carried out by agencies seeking to fast-track the project — which is unprecedented in size and scale. We demand to be heard and our deep concerns addressed — not trivialized, mocked or dismissed,” Smith said.
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