GOP reps say: Halt offshore wind; probe whale deaths
WILDWOOD, N.J. — Republican congressmen called Thursday for a halt to all offshore wind power projects amid a spate of whale deaths on the U.S. East Coast in what was likely the beginning of an expected investigation by the GOP-controlled House into the Biden administration’s clean energy plans.
Reps. Jeff Van Drew and Christopher Smith, of New Jersey; Andy Harris, of Maryland; and Scott Perry, of Pennsylvania, held a hearing on the boardwalk in Wildwood near where New Jersey has authorized three offshore wind farms, with more to come.
The hearing came as 29 whales have died on the East Coast since Dec. 1.
Opponents of offshore wind, elected officials — most of them Republicans — and several community groups say they believe that preparatory work on the ocean floor has been responsible for the whale deaths, even though three federal and one state agency say there is no evidence that the two are related.
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Smith, who represents parts of the Jersey Shore, was among those calling for a pause on wind farm preparation until the U.S. Government Accountability Office can investigate the “sufficiency of the environmental review processes for offshore wind projects.”
“They all say there’s no evidence,” Smith said. “You’re not even looking!”
Lauren Gaches, a spokesperson for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said there is no evidence “to support speculation” that noise resulting from offshore wind site work is killing whales, adding the agency will continue to study the matter.
About half of the 29 recorded dead whales were determined to have been struck by ships or entangled in fishing gear, Gaches’ agency said.
Environmental and pro-wind groups were not invited to testify at the hearing.
From Gazette news services