Rep. Smith Calls On Biden Administration To Suspend All Offshore Wind Projects Over Growing Concerns About Recent Whale Deaths

Amid growing concerns over recent whale deaths, ongoing questions about environmental impacts and a call from 12 Jersey Shore mayors for a moratorium on offshore wind activity, Rep. Chris Smith (R-Manchester)  is urging the Biden Administration to immediately suspend all offshore wind projects until “ecological safety can be assured.”

Smith, writing on behalf of the 12 mayors, including four from his own congressional district, said, “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.”

“Over the course of the past several months, there have been repeated instances of dead whales washing up on New Jersey’s shoreline, and the proximity of nearby offshore wind development has raised concerns that ongoing activity on these projects may be contributing to whale fatalities,” Smith said in separate letters to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.

“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,” Smith added.

“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.

That these projects are being built at such a large scale and in such a short amount of time casts doubt over whether there was sufficient time to properly evaluate these projects’ impact on marine ecosystems, fisheries, shipping channels, tourism, and other important factors that may be affected,” Smith added.

“It was recently reported that, last year, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network raised a concern that construction related to offshore wind was harmful to Atlantic Sturgeon.

While at first their review overlooked this concern, NOAA subsequently found new information corroborating this claim. Still, construction continued in the interim, causing undue environmental harm,” Smith wrote.

“Similarly, the lack of conclusive evidence disproving the link between offshore wind development and whale deaths is sufficient enough to require a pause until assurances can be made to the public that the environmental and maritime safety of these projects has been properly reviewed,” Smith continued.

“Accordingly, I request that all work be suspended until such time that ecological safety can be assured,” Smith concluded.

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