GAO agrees to Smith’s request for independent investigation into the impacts of New Jersey’s unprecedented offshore wind industrialization
The Government Accountability Office (GAO)—the independent congressional watchdog—has officially agreed to launch an investigation into the impacts of New Jersey’s offshore wind development on the environment, the fishing industry, military operations, navigational safety and more, announced Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) today.
“This aggressive, independent investigation into the ocean-altering impacts of the 3,400 offshore wind turbines slated for the Jersey Shore will help address the wide-ranging questions and concerns that the Biden Administration and Governor Murphy continue to dismiss as they plow full steam ahead with this unprecedented offshore wind industrialization of our shore,” Smith said in response to the GAO informing him that his request has been accepted.
Smith, who spoke with the GAO today, said he will be hosting a meeting with them in his office in the coming weeks with other interested parties.
The GAO study—which was requested by Smith in a May 15th letter with House Natural Resources Committee Chair Bruce Westerman (R-AR), Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ) and Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD)—parallels the investigation required by the amendment offered by Smith that passed the House of Representatives as part of the Lower Energy Costs Act (HR 1) in late March.
Smith’s amendment—which garnered strong bipartisan support and passed the House in a vote of 244-189—has since moved to the Senate as part of HR 1, which Senate Democrat Leader Chuck Schumer declared was “dead on arrival.” In response, Smith personally asked Chairman Westerman to join him in requesting the study directly from the GAO.
In the letter, Smith and his colleagues asked the GAO to examine a wide range of concerns, including:
- Air and maritime safety, including the operation of radar systems;
- Impacts to air traffic, including military training missions off the Atlantic Coast;
- Commercial fishing activities, including fisheries-related surveys and associated management plans, fishing access in the Outer Continental Shelf and economic impacts to the fishing industry;
- Marine environment and ecology, including whales and dolphins, and any endangered or threatened species;
- Resiliency of offshore wind infrastructure to hurricanes and other extreme weather events off the Atlantic Coast.
“With so much at stake and out of an abundance of caution and concern, these offshore wind projects must be at a minimum paused until the Government Accountability Office concludes its study,” said Smith, who noted a May poll that shows New Jersey residents oppose the continued offshore wind development by a margin of 42 to 33 percent in light of concerns over the spate of whale and dolphin deaths along the shore.
Banner Image: Wind farm in Oregon at sunset. Image Credit – Dan Meyers