RICHMOND, Va. – This is a story about the wind and the whale.
Virginia’s Offshore Wind Development Authority met in Richmond this week to talk about advancing wind energy production off the state’s coast.
Justin Allegro, who manages the National Wildlife Federation’s Renewable Energy and Wildlife Program, says offshore wind development must include protections for the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale.
“The challenge is, of course, that they do migrate right through the areas that have been identified in the Mid-Atlantic, in particular, for wind energy development offshore,” he says.
Allegro says leading wind power developers agreed last year to help protect the right whale primarily by reducing sound impacts during wind power exploration, but he wants the protections extended to cover the turbine construction as well.
He adds the National Wildlife Federation heartily endorses wind power as a way to stem the effects of climate change, and he hopes energy companies voluntarily get on board with protecting the right whale in the early stages of wind energy development.
But he warns there are just a few hundred whales left, and every one is critical to the species’ survival.
“That’s the sort of seriousness associated with it, is you get down to the individual,” he says. “Every one that’s lost is a potential doom for the species.”
Ten energy companies have expressed interest in building wind turbines to generate energy near the Virginia Beach coastline.
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