New Jersey At first, an offshore wind farm may negatively impact whales and other marine mammals, but its construction, operation and eventual demolition will not harm or kill them, according to the federal scientific agency.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a report Tuesday reviewing the U.S. Ocean Energy Administration’s analysis of the proposed Ocean Wind I project off the coast of southern New Jersey.
NOAA’s final biological opinion examined BOEM’s research and considered “the best available scientific and commercial information.”
New Jersey environmental, fishing groups say ‘no evidence’ offshore wind kills
NOAA has determined that the project by the Danish wind energy company Ørsted “may have a negative impact, but does not threaten the continuity of any species” including endangered whales, sea turtles and other animals. Nor can it be “demolition or adverse improvement” of any critical habitat.
The report comes amid growing opposition to offshore wind projects along the US East Coast over the so-far unproven narrative that seabed preparation for offshore wind farms will harm or kill whales. Thirty one washed up on the beach East coast As of December 1, according to NOAA.
NOAA and other agencies said many of the dead whales appeared to have been hit by ships or entangled in fishing gear, stressing that there is no evidence linking offshore wind production and whale deaths.
However, this has not convinced some people, with some federal and state officials wanting offshore wind projects to be halted or permanently halted and the impact of wind farm site preparation could be further investigated.
US Reps. Jeff Van Drew and Christopher Smith; Both New Jersey RepublicansThey have introduced legislation in Congress that would force such a moratorium, and have promised more investigative hearings into the offshore wind industry.
Complicating matters is a joint study released last week by NOAA, BOEM and the commercial fishing industry that outlines the negative impacts of wind farms on marine life, including noise, vibration, electromagnetic fields and heat transfer that can alter the marine environment.
Ocean Wind 1 is the first offshore wind project approved by New Jersey officials. It will consist of 98 turbines within 15 miles of the Atlantic City and Ocean City beaches.
The project will generate more than 1,100 megawatts of electricity, enough to power nearly half a million homes every year. Orsted in 1999. He hopes to have it up and running by the end of 2024.
NOAA says the project includes several measures to reduce and manage negative impacts on whales, including the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, of which there are fewer than 350 left.
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“No serious injury or death to any (endangered) whale is expected as a result of the proposed project,” the report read. “We do not expect any increase in sound levels to cause injury to right whales; any effects on right whales will be limited to temporary behavioral disturbances. Furthermore, no impacts on critical right whale habitats are expected.”
Since last December, two North Atlantic right whales have been among the 30 East Coast killers.
NOAA said the Office of Conservation Resources plans to issue regulations and a letter of authorization for the project under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act.
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New Jersey has approved two other offshore wind projects: Orsted Ocean Wind II, an additional 518,000 homes, and Atlantic Shores, a project by EDF and Shell that will power 637,000 homes.
The state last month approved another round of wind farm project requests.