12 NJ mayors raise alarm on offshore wind after ‘unprecedented’ number of whale deaths
A dozen New Jersey mayors penned a letter to federal and state officials this week, urging them to implement an immediate moratorium on offshore wind development following the latest in a string of whale deaths.
The mayors requested that offshore wind development is paused until a ‘thorough investigation’ is conducted by federal and state agencies and proves that wind turbine infrastructure is not responsible for the excess whale deaths along the East Coast, according to the letter obtained by Fox News Digital.
On Monday, a large dead humpback whale was found washed up on a beach in Nassau County, New York.
‘While we are not opposed to clean energy, we are concerned about the impacts these (offshore wind) projects may already be having on our environment,’ the 12 mayors wrote in the letter Monday. ‘We urge you to take action now to prevent future deaths.’
The humpback whale discovered earlier this week marked the tenth such whale found beached across four East Coast states since December, according to federal officials. Five of the whales have been found on New Jersey beaches and a handful have been found in New York.
The uptick in dead whales has sparked a fiery debate among lawmakers and environmental groups over whether offshore wind development is to blame.
Republican New Jersey Reps. Jeff Van Drew and Chris Smith and a coalition of local wildlife groups led by Clean Ocean Action have called for a moratorium on wind development in recent weeks.
‘The unprecedented number of whale stranding coincides with ongoing activity from acoustic survey vessels for the development of offshore wind,’ the 12 mayors added in their letter.
The mayors who signed the letter represent Wildwood Crest, North Wildwood. Stone Harbor, Linwood, Brigantine, Long Beach Township, Mantoloking, Bay Head, Point Pleasant Beach, Spring Lake, Margate and Deal.
On Wednesday, Long Beach Township Mayor Joseph Mancini explained that he had signed the letter because there had been insufficient environmental analyses conducted studying the impact of offshore wind development on marine wildlife. He noted a report from Save Long Beach Island, a local group opposed to offshore wind, that showed at least six vessels were operating off the coast of New Jersey as of Jan. 23, conducting geotechnical surveys that could disrupt whales.
‘There have been no environmental impact studies and we feel this project should be stopped until such studies have been completed,’ Mancini said.
On Jan. 18, federal officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) held a press briefing during which they downplayed the impact of offshore wind on whales. The officials said they were studying the cause of deaths for the whales recently discovered, but that no whale mortality has been attributed to offshore wind activities yet.
‘NOAA Fisheries is dedicated to minimizing risks to protected resources, habitats, and managed fisheries throughout the life cycle of offshore wind energy projects,’ NOAA spokesperson Lauren Gaches told reporters.
The Biden administration and East Coast states like New Jersey continue to push for aggressive clean energy development including offshore wind projects as part of their climate agenda.
In July, President Biden argued that offshore wind would create jobs and power millions of homes in the future. And the Department of Interior has expanded plans for offshore lease sales for wind development along the nation’s eastern and western coastlines and in the Gulf of Mexico.
There are currently four offshore wind projects in federal waters off the coast of New Jersey and another three projects being constructed off the coast of New York in federal waters, according to BOEM.