At congressional field hearing on the rush to build 3,500 turbines off the New Jersey coast Smith slams shoddy wind farm approval process, renews call for pause
During a congressional field hearing on offshore wind farms today, Rep. Chris Smith (R-Manchester) called out the Biden and Murphy Administrations for their rush to install nearly 3,500 wind turbines off the coast of New Jersey without sufficient study on their impact on the environment, marine mammals, the fishing industry, tourism, navigational safety and more.
Smith’s colleague Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ) chaired the hearing, hosted at the Jersey Shore, which focused on offshore wind’s significant impact to the state. It was attended by Reps. Andy Harris (R-MD) and Scott Perry (R-PA), and examined a variety of issues including Smith’s legislation—HR 1056—to require a Government Accountability Office “The wind farm approval process has been shoddy at best, leaving unaddressed and unanswered numerous serious questions concerning the extraordinarily harmful environmental impact on marine life and the ecosystems that allow all sea creatures great and small to thrive,” Smith said.
“Without serious, aggressive, and independent analysis on the ocean-altering impact of these projects, they must be paused.”
He also pointed to recent reporting from Bloomberg stating that “Orsted A/S, the world’s largest developer of offshore wind farms, asked authorities in April to stop maritime traffic near some of its sites after blades fell from one of its turbines off the coast of Denmark…”and that “There’s no publicly available industrywide data on turbine failures… .”
Similarly, a 2022 study from the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found that wind turbine generators can interfere with radar systems, and that, “mitigation techniques for marine vessel radar have not been substantially investigated, implemented, matured or deployed.”
Several expert witnesses who testified at the hearing identified the potential impacts of offshore wind development on the fishing industry, the environment, and the Jersey Shore tourism economy.
Cindy Zipf, the executive director of Clean Ocean Action, pointed out that “Offshore wind is a new use of our marine waters, requiring substantial scientific and regulatory review.”
Meghan Lapp, fisheries liaison for Seafreeze, noted the lack of study given to the turbines’ impact on commercial and recreational fishing, testifying that, “we are facing the annihilation of our industry at the hands of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.”
Dr. Bob Stern of Save Long Beach Island spoke to the impact of offshore wind on the Jersey Shore’s tourism economy, noting the harmful effects of “noise, to whales and humans,” created by these turbines, many of which will be visible from shore.
Given these many unanswered questions, Smith emphasized the danger of the Biden and Murphy Administrations’ rush to put thousands of these turbines in the ocean, and questioned whether a 30% tax credit for offshore wind projects which expires in 2026—funded by US taxpayers in Biden’s so-called “Inflation Reduction Act” (which Smith voted against)—could be fueling the irresponsible push to install these turbines.
“Congress must pass my legislation, and the entire federal government must step up oversight, in order to protect our beautiful Jersey Shore from this potentially catastrophic threat,” Smith said.