UNITED STATES NEWS

NJ GOP seeks wind projects halt to see if whales benefit

May 3, 2023, 12:06 PM

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Republican state lawmakers and other New Jersey opponents of offshore wind turbines called Wednesday for a 30- to 60-day moratorium on construction work at such sites to see if it would lead to a decrease in whale deaths.

Four state senators hosted a online hearing about offshore wind energy generation and whale deaths, three weeks after the most recent East Coast whale death was reported and despite the assurances of most scientists and conservationists that there is no correlation.

The two-hour hearing came a week after Democrats, who control the Legislature and the governorship, held a similar hearing and many of New Jersey’s major environmental groups said the greatest danger to whales is climate change, not offshore wind generation.

“I’ve been labeled a climate change denier and a tin-foil hat wearer,” said Jim Hutchinson, managing editor of The Fisherman, a widely read New Jersey publication. “We’re defamed, denied, discarded and disparaged at every step along the way.”

“One thing our side of the aisle gets accused of is not following the science,” said Republican state Sen. Michael Testa. “So what is the harm of waiting 30 or 60 days?”

Since Dec. 1, 32 dead whales have washed ashore between Massachusetts and Florida, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The most recent death came on April 9, when a fin whale washed up on a sandbar in Virginia, according to NOAA spokeswoman Allison Ferreira.

New Jersey has aggressively approved and cleared the way for a nascent offshore wind energy industry, with three offshore wind projects already approved and more being sought.

What began in January as a request by the environmental group Clean Ocean Action for the Biden Administration to temporarily halt offshore wind site preparation work while the deaths are investigated rapidly grew into a politically polarized divide.

“We’ve gone too far, too fast,” Cindy Zipf, the group’s executive director, said of efforts to approve offshore wind in New Jersey. “Over 2.2 million acres is being allocated to offshore wind and 10,000 miles of cables. We became alarmed that it was plausible that activity going on offshore had to do with the whale die-offs. We felt there was a reason for investigation.”

Most of the state’s major environmental groups support the expansion of offshore wind energy generation and have declined to join Clean Ocean Action in its call for a moratorium.

Numerous federal agencies, including the NOAA, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Marine Mammal Commission and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, have said there is no evidence linking offshore wind prep with whale deaths.

Many panelists and witnesses at Wednesday’s online hearing accused the administrations of President Joe Biden and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, both Democrats, of turning a blind eye to concerns about offshore wind in a rush to establish the industry.

“You can’t find evidence if you don’t look for it,” said Trisha DeVoe, a conservation biologist who works with the Miss Belmar Whale Watching business.

“We’re being told, ‘Just accept what we tell you,’” added state Sen. Anthony Bucco.

Meghan Lapp of the Rhode Island-based seafood company Seafreeze, said the turbines will interfere with the radar fishing vessels commonly use, preventing them from operating among the structures, and other panelists said insurers will not cover vessels if they do so.

“Offshore wind is the single greatest existential threat to commercial fishing in the United States right now,” Lapp said.

As Republicans were holding their forum, a group led by former Democratic state Senate President Steve Sweeney held an event touting the economic and employment potential of offshore wind.

U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., who represents part of the Jersey Shore and who led last week’s Democratic-led forum, said pausing offshore wind projects wouldn’t prevent whale deaths.

“We know that the climate crisis is the biggest threat to marine mammals and their habitats,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “The food source whales depend on is moving closer to the busy shipping lanes near the Port of New York and New Jersey as ocean temperatures rise, leaving them vulnerable to vessel strikes and entanglements.”

___

Follow Wayne Parry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/WayneParryAC

United States News

Associated Press

15 people suffer minor injuries in tram accident at Universal Studios theme park in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A tram accident at Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles injured 15 people Saturday night, authorities and the company said. Los Angeles County Fire Department units were dipatched to the theme park on Lankershim Boulevard shortly after 9 p.m., the department said in a social media post. The victims taken to […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

8 shot including 2 men killed at a party with hundreds attending in Memphis park, police say

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Eight people were shot including two men who were killed at an unsanctioned public party in a Memphis city park Saturday night, police said. Officers responded at 7:19 p.m. to a reported shooting, Memphis Police Department Chief Cerelyn Davis said during a news conference at the scene. Two men were pronounced […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Vehicle crashes into building where birthday party held, injuring children and adults, sheriff says

BERLIN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A vehicle drove through a boat club building where a children’s birthday celebration was taking place Saturday, seriously injuring a number of children and adults, a Michigan sheriff said in a news release. The victims were taken to several area hospitals after the crash that occurred at about 3 p.m. […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

3 hospitalized after knife attack on party boat in New York City along Brooklyn waterfront

NEW YORK (AP) — A knife attack on a crowded party boat at a New York City pier Saturday resulted in the hospitalization of three people, police said. A 911 call came in around 5 p.m. reporting the assault along the Brooklyn waterfront near 58th Street and the Brooklyn Army Terminal warehouse, NYPD Detective Sophia […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

Autoworkers union celebrates breakthrough win in Tennessee and takes aim at more plants in the South

DALLAS (AP) — The United Auto Workers’ overwhelming election victory at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee is giving the union hope that it can make broader inroads in the South, the least unionized part of the country. The UAW won a stunning 73% of the vote at VW after losing elections in 2014 and 2019. […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

Conditions improve for students shot in Maryland park on ‘senior skip day’

GREENBELT, Md. (AP) — Three of the five youths shot in a suburban Washington, D.C., park during a high school “senior skip day” gathering have been released from the hospital, while the condition of the most seriously injured has improved, authorities said Saturday. Police in Greenbelt, Maryland, are asking the public to share video footage […]

12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

NJ GOP seeks wind projects halt to see if whales benefit