COVENTRY, RI—Days after Gov. Gina Raimondo announced a deal to plant more wind turbines off Rhode Island’s coast, several Republicans on Smith Hill are calling for a study about the potential impact on marine life. Rep. Sherry Roberts, R-Coventry, is the bill’s sponsor. She has said the turbines could harm the environment, as well as the fishing industry.
“The Governor seems to have a double standard when it comes to the environment,” Roberts said. “She is touting temporary jobs at the potential expense of our environment and fishing industry. We must be careful not to destroy our coastal ecosystem. Everything from the construction of turbines to the electrical fields from their cables could have long-lasting effects on marine life.”
Rhode Island already has a wind farm off Block Island, but the new project, which is supposed to start in 2020, would be bigger. According to Roberts and Reps. Robert Nardolillo and Justin Price, the scale of this wind farm has added to their concerns about potential damage. Sea birds and marine mammals, as well as fishing stocks, could be at risk based on previous studies, they said.
“As a former fisherman, I understand the worries of the local fishing community,” Price said. “They are concerned that the offshore wind project could threaten their main income source. It is incumbent on the legislature to study this project’s environmental impact before sacrificing our bountiful fishing industry for what may amount to few permanent jobs.”
Nardolillo said the wind farms could also harm the state’s natural beauty.
“The ocean is a bountiful source of food and jobs for Rhode Islanders and it is important that we do everything we can to protect it,” he said. “Visitors come from around the country to our state for its natural beauty and seafood. Both of these essential characteristics of our state could be at risk with the expansion of wind farms. This study commission will help determine how we can continue producing sustainable energy while protecting our precious marine life.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding