Smith Amendment, Requiring Independent Investigation Into Environmental Review Process For Wind Turbines Along Jersey Shore Passes House


In response to the Biden Administration’s industrial wind farm approval

House Passes (244-189) Smith amendment requiring independent investigation into environmental review process for 3,400 offshore wind turbines along Jersey Shore

WASHINGTON—Last week, the House of Representatives passed an amendment offered by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) requiring a comprehensive, independent investigation into the sufficiency of the environmental review process for 3,400 offshore wind turbines along New Jersey’s coastline during its consideration of the Lower Energy Costs Act (HR 1).

Smith said his amendment —which passed by a vote of 244-189 and is now part of HR 1—comes in response to the Biden and Murphy Administrations’ policy to install the massive wind farms around the nation’s busiest port without adequate study on their impact on the environment, marine mammals, the fishing industry, tourism, navigational safety and more.Image

“The offshore wind industrialization approval process has left unaddressed and unanswered numerous serious questions concerning the potentially harmful environmental impact on marine life and the ecosystems that currently allow all sea creatures great and small to thrive,” Smith said during House debate on his amendment, noting at least 15 dead whales have washed ashore in New Jersey and New York since December.

“Like canaries in coal mines, the recent spate of tragic whale and dolphin deaths and a well-founded suspicion that geophysical surveys including the use of sonar may be a contributing cause, has brought new light and increased scrutiny to the fast tracking of approximately 3,400 offshore wind turbines covering 2.4 million acres by 2030 —all embedded into the ocean floor by pile drivers—or floated—in the North Atlantic Planning Area that includes New Jersey’s coast,” said Smith.

Specifically, Smith’s amendment would require the US Government Accountability Office (GAO)—the congressional watchdog—to investigate and report to Congress on the offshore wind projects’ impacts on whales and other marine life, commercial and recreational fishing, tourism, and military use and navigation/vessel traffic, as well as the impacts of hurricanes and other severe weather on offshore wind projects.

Smith—who raised numerous concerns about the offshore wind projects—said the GAO would also be tasked to reveal how federal agencies determine which stakeholders are consulted; whether a timely, comprehensive comment period is provided for local representatives and interested parties; and the estimated cost and who pays for the projects.

“If and when the wind turbines go online, vessel navigation—including US Navy ships, merchant ships, fishing boats, and search and rescue operations by the Coast Guard—may be significantly hampered due to radar interference,” said Smith, who pointed to a 2022 report that found wind turbine generators “obfuscate the marine vessel radar for both magnetron-based and solid-state radar…” and “can cause significant interference and shadowing that suppress the detection of small contacts…”

“The vulnerability of massive structures the size of the Chrysler Building to hurricanes, nor’easters and superstorms has not been adequately investigated and vetted,” added Smith, who cited a 2012 study that found “there is very substantial risk that Category 3 and higher hurricanes can destroy half or more of the turbines at some locations.”

“New Jersey’s amazing shore tourism industry is being put at grave risk,” Smith continued.

“With so much at stake—and out of an abundance of caution and concern—a serious, aggressive, and independent analysis on the ocean-altering impact of these projects is absolutely critical,” said Smith.

Banner Image: Wind farm. Image Credit – Karsten Würth


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