Ocean County Commissioners Call For Moratorium On Offshore Wind Energy Projects; Joins Growing Chorus Of Concerns

Citing the concerns of elected officials, tourism leaders, local residents, business owners and environmental groups, the Ocean County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on offshore wind energy projects.

“There are clearly growing concerns over these projects,” said Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners Joseph H. Vicari, liaison to tourism and business development. “We need to know more about the potential impact on the environment and the economy before this goes any farther.”

In a resolution passed by the Board on Feb. 15 and sent to U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew and Christopher H. Smith, Governor Phil Murphy, 9th and 10th State Legislative Districts and the Ocean County Mayors Association, the Board of Commissioners is urging the state and federal governments to declare a moratorium on the offshore wind energy projects mirroring actions already taken by Smith, Van Drew and others.

“While this Board of Commissioners recognizes the importance of pursuing new and clean energy sources, it acknowledges serious objections and concerns have not been addressed as these projects continue to move forward through the planning stages,” the resolution states.

The resolution notes there are concerns expressed by New Jersey’s $2.5 billion annual fishing industry which provides numerous economic benefits including employment opportunities.

The Board added the same could be said for the tourism industry which generates $7 billion in revenue for the local economy in Ocean County alone.

“Residents and business owners have concerns about the irrevocably negative impact on the coastal viewshed that will result from the turbines being visible from Long Beach Island and other oceanfront beach locations and how this visual pollution will affect tourism and local property values,” the resolution notes.

Vicari said Brita Forsberg, Executive Director of Save Barnegat Bay, is one of the environmental leaders raising concerns over the projects, in particular the effects on the bay.

“In consulting with Brita, we have come to learn that further study is necessary concerning the high voltage electrical mainline connecting the windmills to the power grid, which will pass directly under Barnegat Bay and could have a negative impact on the fragile bay and surrounding environments, including Island Beach State Park,” Vicari said.

The resolution also recognizes the ongoing concerns of some environmentalists who claim that the recent increase in whale deaths along the New Jersey Coast and the Eastern Seaboard could be the result of sonar and other surveys conducted prior to the windfarm construction.

“All totaled the concerns that have been voiced raise a number of legitimate red flags and should not be dismissed by the state or federal government,” Vicari said. “This affects the livelihood of countless people in our state and those that live along the coast.”

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