Wind Turbine Projects Under Review – Republicans call for Halt in Congress

Interest groups increasingly demand that offshore wind activities be halted so that the industry’s effects on the maritime environment can be more thoroughly studied.

On March 21st, Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew sponsored a resolution to stop offshore wind projects along the east coast until the effects on marine animals can be studied.

Fishing organizations and nearby communities have launched five lawsuits against wind projects, mainly along the Atlantic coast.

The United States Pacific Fishing Industry Association has requested that the federal government cancel an auction planned for offshore wind off the coast of Oregon.

A major Native American advocacy group in the United States has lately demanded a halt to all wind energy scoping and permitting.

The climate policy of the Biden administration relies heavily on wind power. The company plans to build 30 GW of wind farms by 2030, which it estimates will provide electricity for 10,000,000 homes, and 15 GW of floating offshore wind facilities by 2035, which may provide electricity for 500,000 more.

There is cause for alarm as the number of marine mammal fatalities along the north Atlantic coast continues to rise.

There have been 29 whale deaths on the East Coast since December, and 14 dolphin deaths in the last month, including eight on March 21st, have been reported in New Jersey.

In Van Drew’s opinion, survey and construction activities related to wind farms may be to blame for the documented impairment of dolphin and whale fatalities.

According to NOAA’s marine animal stranding network, no whale deaths have been connected to oceanic wind turbines.

According to Van Drew, the NOAA, and the BOEM have greenlighted enormous building projects smack dab in the center of whale feeding and breeding sites, as well as migration corridors.

It is projected that 3,500 turbines will be installed along the Atlantic coast. BOEM has already leased 2.3 million acres for this purpose.

Sarah Wilkin, a coordinator of NOAA’s Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program, says that humpback whales have been experiencing an unprecedented continuing mortality event since 2016 and that the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale population has also shown an uptick in deaths. The reason for the sudden increase in deaths is a mystery to researchers.

More excellent knowledge of the possible repercussions from the wind projects planned for southern New England is essential to safeguard the endangered right whale, which increasingly uses the same seas as its habitat. NOAA reports that no deaths have been attributed to offshore wind farms.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council has requested that BOEM cancel leases in Oregon to develop floating offshore wind farms.

At its meeting on March 10th, the Council passed a resolution urging BOEM to begin finding appropriate places for putting offshore wind turbines again, taking into account the demands of the fishing industry.

Off the coast of Oregon, BOEM has announced that it will lease two locations for offshore wind construction in April of 2022. Starting 12 miles offshore in southern and central Oregon, they want to auction off 1.15 million acres next year.

Federal agencies have commissioned over a dozen studies of large-scale development’s environmental, economic, and social impact along the Pacific Coast, all of which acknowledge the risk to marine life, including the risk of whales becoming tangled in the moorings and cables associated with floating wind platforms.

Yet, the leasing locations along the Pacific coast were chosen before the evaluations were finished.

Meanwhile, Native American communities allege that they have been ignored.

The oldest American Indian and Native Alaskan tribal organization in the country has demanded that the Biden administration do a better job of preserving tribal interests by calling for a halt on offshore wind projects along U.S. shores.

In a resolution released on February 24th, the National Council of American Indians (NCAI) asserted shared tribal jurisdictional authority over and tribe management of offshore renewable energy activities with the goal of empowering Native communities through social and economic benefits like as job possibilities, profit sharing, and assistance for tribal energy development programs.

It requested Interior and BOEM cease all scoping and permits for offshore wind projects until a thorough and transparent mechanism is devised and followed to protect tribal environmental and sovereign interests effectively.