Thousands of offshore wind turbines slated for some of the nation’s busiest airspace House passes Smith amendment requiring Biden to certify that offshore wind industrialization will not interfere with commercial or military aviation
The House of Representatives today passed an amendment authored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) that would require President Biden or his designee to certify that offshore wind projects “will not weaken, degrade, interfere with, or nullify the capability of radar relied upon the Federal Aviation Administration or the Armed Forces.”
Smith’s amendment, cosponsored by Reps. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ) and Andy Harris (R-MD), comes in response to the Biden Administration’s rush to install thousands of offshore wind turbines in some of the busiest airspace in the country—including areas near Newark, New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington DC—despite numerous studies that find offshore wind turbines disrupt radar systems.
Smith—who noted these areas contain major international airports, dozens of smaller airports and several military and coast guard aviation facilities—said the studies raise concerns that such interference will “create a dangerous and potentially catastrophic impact on both military and commercial aviation activities” and cited various reports including one by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the government agency overseeing the offshore wind projects.
“BOEM’s radar interference analysis from August of 2020 stated, ‘The research team found that the proposed and hypothetical wind farms are within the line of sight of 36 radar systems, indicating that they will generate interference to these radars under normal atmospheric conditions’ and ‘future offshore wind energy installations on the Atlantic coast may impact land-based radar systems,’” said Smith.
Another study cited by Smith stated, “Offshore wind turbines may pose unique impacts to coastal radar systems given the differences in propagation of radar signals over the ocean versus land, as well as the larger size of offshore wind turbines compared to land-based wind turbines.” That finding came from 2017 Interagency Ground-Based Coastal Air Surveillance Wind Turbine-Radar Interference Vulnerability Study.
Smith pointed to a third study by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine from 2022 that found “wind turbine generator mitigation techniques have not been substantially investigated, implemented, matured, or deployed.”
Smith’s amendment—which now moves to the Senate as part of the underlying bill—would also require the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General to conduct a comprehensive review of the sufficiency of the process used to approve offshore wind projects in areas critical to air travel and national security.
“Taiwan, as we all know, faces a military threat from Xi Jinping’s China, and has concluded that they may not be able to detect an assault due to radar interference from offshore wind turbines,” said Smith, who noted that Taiwan, Japan, Finland and Sweden have all halted certain offshore wind projects due to objections from their Armed Forces and concerns over radar and freedom of safe movement for aircraft.
Smith’s push for certification from the Biden Administration is part of his full-court press for transparency and accountability as many serious concerns over the impacts of the offshore wind industrialization of the Jersey Shore continue to go unaddressed while the projects are rushed to completion.
Earlier this year, the House passed another Smith amendment—with broad bipartisan support in a vote of 244-189—requiring an independent investigation by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) into the impacts that the wind turbines will have on the environment, fishing industry, military operations, navigational safety and more. The audit by the congressional watchdog—which Smith secured in June—is ongoing.
Smith’s measure that passed the House today now advances to the Senate as part of the underlying bipartisan bill (HR 3935) to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration.
“Many of us are deeply concerned over the safety, efficacy and likely deleterious environmental impact of embedding some 3,400 ocean wind turbines—each the size of the Chrysler Building in New York City—off our coast,” said Smith.