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Offshore wind energy projects move forward in New Jersey despite opposition

ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey — Two large offshore wind energy projects are moving forward in New Jersey, with the owners of one project agreeing to bring the federal government into their environmental monitoring plans earlier than ever, and federal regulators saying plans for a another project was underway. is not expected to kill or seriously injure marine life.

They come as New Jersey continues to grow as a hub of opposition to offshore wind projects from resident groups and their mostly Republican political allies. The state’s Democratic governor and Democratic-controlled Legislature want to make the state the East Coast leader in offshore wind energy.

Community Offshore Wind, a joint venture between Essen, Germany-based RWE and New York-based National Grid Ventures, announced Thursday a five-year partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to promote the exchange of data and information. expertise in environmental monitoring for offshore wind projects.

The agreement will bring the federal agency into the business planning process at a much earlier stage than is currently done in the offshore wind industry, an arrangement that could become the new industry standard, according to company president Doug Perkins.

“Instead of proposing this ourselves and getting feedback from agencies, we will work together to make sure the data they collect is effective,” he said. “It creates the opportunity, the possibility for us to engage with them, and for them to engage with us, to make sure that our plans, how we sample, where we sample, when we samples, match what they do and what will be required of the industry.

Jon Hare, director of NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, welcomed the proposed collaboration.

“With the help of a number of collaborators and the fishing industry, our agency manages some of the world’s most comprehensive datasets on large marine ecosystems,” he said. “Our goal is to integrate offshore wind energy monitoring activities into this partnership. This agreement is our first chance to make these partnerships a reality and to show by example that effective scientific monitoring benefits everyone.

The community leased a 125,000-acre site 60 miles off Long Island, New York, and 60 miles off Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey. His project has not yet been designed but should include at least 100 wind turbines. It could be active by 2030 or 2031, Perkins said.

On Wednesday, NOAA issued a letter of authorization for Denmark-based Orsted’s Ocean Wind I project in southern New Jersey.

That involved approving plans to unintentionally harass or harm marine mammals during construction of the project, which would build 98 turbines about 15 miles off the coast of Ocean City and Atlantic City. The agency calls the impact “taking,” which refers to the harassment or injury of animals.

“Ocean Wind has not requested and (the National Marine Fisheries Service) does not expect or authorize incidental take resulting in serious injury or mortality,” the agency wrote.

Opponents of offshore wind power blame the deaths of 70 whales along the East Coast since December on offshore wind site preparation work. But three federal scientific agencies say there is no evidence that this work is responsible for the deaths, about half of which have been attributed to ship strikes.

NOAA requires Orsted to take a number of measures intended to avoid harm to whales, including a moratorium on the detonation of underwater explosives from November 1 to April 30; visual and acoustic monitoring of waters near these explosions before, during and after them; stop pile driving “if possible” if a North American right whale or other endangered marine mammal enters certain prescribed areas; and noise mitigation measures, including using as little hammer force as possible for foundation installations.

David Shanker, a spokesperson for the Save the Right Whales Coalition, called the decision “appalling.” The group recently sent NOAA the results of a study by an independent acoustics firm claiming that offshore wind survey vessels have exceeded approved decibel levels and appear to be using devices other than those approved.

“There has been a complete breakdown of the system designed to protect marine wildlife and protect the North Atlantic right whale from extinction,” Shanker said.

NOAA declined to comment.

Earlier this week, Republicans in the state Senate called for a moratorium on all offshore wind projects. They requested a special session of the Legislature to consider measures to prohibit new tax breaks for offshore wind companies beyond those already granted to Orsted. Senate Democrats declined to comment.

On Wednesday, six protesters were arrested after refusing to leave a road in Ocean City where Orsted began onshore testing of its first wind farm project.


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