Senate Republicans are calling for Governor Phil Murphy to temporarily halt wind farm development work that might be linked to a sudden spike in whale deaths in the area.
“Senate Republicans are deeply concerned by the surge of whale deaths that has occurred since December in the waters and on the beaches of the Jersey Shore and neighboring states,” said Senate Republican Leader Steven Oroho (R-24). “As many of my colleagues have pointed out, the only change in our waters recently has been the start of survey work for the construction of offshore wind farms. It seems like too big of a coincidence to ignore, especially when some of the impacted whales are endangered.”
Oroho said Senate Republicans are calling for Governor Murphy to issue a 30-day moratorium on wind farm development to help understand if that work is responsible for a large increase in whale deaths in the region.
At least ten dead whales have washed ashore on beaches in New Jersey and New York since December, while the stranding deaths of several dolphins last week at Sandy Hook raised additional concerns.
Some environment groups, including Clean Ocean Action, have warned the deaths could be linked to underwater surveys that are being conducted for the construction of large offshore wind farms just miles off the Jersey Shore.
Surveys of the ocean floor often include the use of sonar mapping, drilling, and seismic testing, all of which may disrupt the ability of whales and other marine animals to navigate safely, possibly leading to the spike of deadly groundings and vessel strikes.
In response to those serious concerns, Republican senators representing coastal communities have called for a pause in the survey work:
- Sen. Vince Polistina (R-2) – Polistina Urges Gov. Murphy to Issue 30-Day Moratorium on Wind Development to Investigate Whale Deaths
- Sen. Michael Testa (R-1) – Southern Shore Lawmakers Say Unprecedented Whale Deaths Warrant Suspension of Offshore Wind Projects
- Sen. Ed Durr (R-3) – Durr Calls for Pause in Surveying for Wind Farms as More Dead Whales Wash Ashore
- Sen. Jim Holzapfel (R-10) – 10th District Legislators Urge Murphy Administration to Halt Offshore Wind Projects
- Sen. Declan O’Scanlon (R-13) – Halt Undersea Mapping to Investigate Cause of Spike in Whale Deaths
- Sen. Robert Singer (R-30) – Singer Calls for More Marine Wildlife Oversight
“We believe the fastest and easiest way to determine if there is a link between wind farm development and the spike in whale deaths is to halt surveying for 30 days,” Oroho added. “If the trend in whale deaths changes during that time, we’ll have data to guide further action and a more thorough investigation. And if we don’t see a change, a delay of a few weeks is a small price to pay to ensure that we’re being good stewards of our ocean environment and taking reasonable steps to protect endangered whales. To put it simply, there’s no good reason for Governor Murphy to keep doing nothing.”