TOMS RIVER, NJ – U.S. Congressman Chris Smith attended a hearing on offshore windarms in New Jersey and slammed President Joe Biden and Governor Phil Murphy over what he called the harmful environmental impact 3,500 wind turbines could have on the coastal ecosystem.
Smith said the President and governor’s rush to install nearly 3,500 wind turbines off the coast of New Jersey without sufficient study on their impact on the environment, marine mammals, the fishing industry, tourism and navigational safety was reckless.
“The wind farm approval process has been shoddy at best, leaving unaddressed and unanswered numerous serious questions concerning the extraordinarily harmful environmental impact on marine life and the ecosystems that allow all sea creatures great and small to thrive,” Smith said. “Without serious, aggressive, and independent analysis on the ocean-altering impact of these projects, they must be paused.”
Smith cited a Carnegie Mellon study that noted “There is a very substantial risk that Category 3 hurricanes can destroy half or more of the turbines at some locations,” as an example of these issues.
He also pointed to recent reporting from Bloomberg stating that “Orsted A/S, the world’s largest developer of offshore wind farms, asked authorities in April to stop maritime traffic near some of its sites after blades fell from one of its turbines off the coast of Denmark…”and that “There’s no publicly available industrywide data on turbine failures… .”
Similarly, a 2022 study from the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found that wind turbine generators can interfere with radar systems, and that, “mitigation techniques for marine vessel radar have not been substantially investigated, implemented, matured or deployed.”
Several expert witnesses who testified at the hearing identified the potential impacts of offshore wind development on the fishing industry, the environment, and the Jersey Shore tourism economy.
Cindy Zipf, the executive director of Clean Ocean Action, pointed out, “Offshore wind is a new use of our marine waters, requiring substantial scientific and regulatory review.”
Meghan Lapp, fisheries liaison for Seafreeze, noted the lack of study given to the turbines’ impact on commercial and recreational fishing, testifying that, “we are facing the annihilation of our industry at the hands of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.”
Dr. Bob Stern of Save Long Beach Island spoke to the impact of offshore wind on the Jersey Shore’s tourism economy, noting the harmful effects of “noise, to whales and humans,” created by these turbines, many of which will be visible from shore.
Smith emphasized the danger of the Biden and Murphy Administrations’ rush to put thousands of these turbines in the ocean, and questioned whether a 30% tax credit for offshore wind projects which expires in 2026—funded by US taxpayers in Biden’s so-called “Inflation Reduction Act” (which Smith voted against)—could be fueling the irresponsible push to install these turbines.
“Congress must pass my legislation, and the entire federal government must step up oversight, in order to protect our beautiful Jersey Shore from this potentially catastrophic threat,” Smith said.