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Tipsheet

'Where Is the Outrage?': NJ Lawmakers Demand Investigation Into Offshore Wind Projects After Whale Deaths

Terry Mitchell

Following a string of whale deaths in the New Jersey, New York area recently, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) wrote to the Biden administration on Monday calling for a suspension of offshore wind projects until “ecological safety can be assured.” 

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The Republican’s letter comes at the request of a group of coastal New Jersey mayors who called on government scientists to study whether ocean noise relating to seabed mapping, turbine construction, soil borings, and other activities pose a threat to whales. 

"While we are not opposed to clean energy, we are concerned about the impacts these (offshore wind) projects may already be having on our environment," the 12 New Jersey mayors wrote.

“I share their concerns regarding the several offshore wind projects under development off the coast of New Jersey, and their requisite impact on recent whale deaths, as well as the potential impacts on the broader environment and the fishing industry,” Smith said in his letter. “Over the course of the past several months, there have been repeated instances of dead whales washing up on New Jersey’s shoreline, and proximity of nearby offshore wind development has raised concerns that ongoing activity on these projects may be contributing to whale fatalities.”

He added: “The federal government has a responsibility to ensure the Jersey Shore’s environmental viability, and any projects that may affect not only whales, but the broader marine ecosystem and the economy it sustains, must be comprehensively reviewed before allowed to proceed. 

"The New Jersey mayors, local environmental leaders, and members of the fishing community all share a deep concern that four major offshore wind projects have been approved concurrently within the span of two years," he added. 

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Fellow NJ Congressman Jeff Van Drew said the whale deaths warrant an investigation. 

Last month, officials from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said there is no data to support the link between whale deaths and wind projects, but not everyone is convinced. 

“I want to be unambiguous: There is no information supporting that any of the equipment used in support of offshore wind development could directly lead to the death of a whale,” said Benjamin Laws, deputy chief for permits and conservation, NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources. “There are no known connections between any offshore wind activities and any whale strandings.”

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Fox News's Tucker Carlson addressed the issue on his Tuesday program. 

“It’s very odd considering that if you want to move your cows into a new pasture and some rare salamander is found there the federal government shuts it down, they’re very uptight about killing animals,” Carlson said, “but here, the biggest mammals in the world are dying in an unexplained way and there’s no curiosity, I think it’s the strangest thing I’ve ever seen.”

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