TRENTON, N.J. – Sen. Michael Testa and Assemblymen Erik Simonsen and Antwan McClellan are intensifying calls to suspend offshore wind projects following an unprecedented number of whale deaths along the coasts of New Jersey and New York. They join a chorus of concerned elected officials and environmental and commercial fishing groups who are worried the push for more offshore wind development has contributed to the death of seven whales in a little over a month, including two on the endangered species list.
Despite the opposition, Gov. Phil Murphy continues his aggressive green energy goals, which calls for increasing offshore electric wind generation to 11,000 megawatts by 2040. To date, three offshore wind projects have been approved by the state Board of Public Utilities. One would add 98 wind turbines in Ocean and Cape May counties and others could produce as many as 350 along Atlantic County’s shoreline.
“It has been clear for a long while that the wind projects as proposed may pose significant impact risks to the local environment,” said Testa (R-Cumberland). “Our coastal communities and the thriving commercial fisheries and recreational fishing activities rely upon a healthy and safe ocean and these projects unnecessarily imperil that which is unacceptable. Until the proponents can assure our region that these projects are not playing a part in these incidents, it would be wise to suspend the work.”
The South Jersey state lawmakers have spoken out against Murphy’s energy plans alongside fishermen and entrepreneurs whose jobs depend on the coastline.
“We believe that the work related to offshore wind activities is the primary difference in our waters and an investigation should be done as to why these magnificent marine mammals are dying in alarming numbers,” McClellan (R-Cape May) said.
Simonsen echoed calls for an investigation, saying, “It is essential that there is transparency and accountability for what has been such a tragic loss of sea life. Our whales must be safeguarded before any further progress can be made.”
U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-Cape May County), state Sen. Vincent J. Polistina, Assemblyman Don Guardian and Assemblywoman Claire Swift (R-Atlantic County) have also demanded a halt to offshore wind activities at the Jersey Shore.