The following letter was addressed to Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. A similar letter was sent to her by all six Long Beach Island mayors.
Dear Secretary Haaland:
As the mayor of Harvey Cedars, a community on Long Beach Island that could be significantly impacted by the offshore wind project proposed off our shore, I am writing to you to express my support for the objective of a recent lawsuit filed on Jan. 10 by Save Long Beach Island Inc., a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of more than 1,000 Long Beach Island residents, businesses and visitors.
The lawsuit contends that the selection of the larger “wind energy areas” within which turbines are to be placed should have been preceded and supported by a structured regional environmental impact statement (EIS) process with full public input, something the borough has called for in the past.
The project proposed off LBI so far would place up to 200 Vesta-236 gearbox turbines, standing 853 to 1,046 feet above sea level, 9 to 20 miles offshore. It would: 1) scar our shore by creating the largest, closest and most visible large turbine wind complex in the world, reducing our tourism, rentals and local employment; 2) potentially block the essential migration of the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale from operational turbine noise; 3) likely force endangered fin and humpback whales trying to avoid the turbine noise to shore, causing beach stranding; 4) potentially decimate the threatened piping plover bird population here that would now have to cross the turbine complex to nest in its protected areas on the Island; and 5) may interfere with defense readiness operations by its location in a Department of Defense designated turbine exclusion zone.
If the court agrees, this EIS process will result in a revisiting of the selection of this wind energy area. Had such an EIS process been conducted with general public input when the New Jersey wind energy area was designed, I believe that we would not be facing the major impacts above.
I recognize that such an EIS process might delay certain elements of your offshore wind program. But at the same time, I believe that there is a strong consensus among shore communities that these projects are moving too fast, and will have long-term consequences with simply too many unknowns.
It is my belief that all parties would ultimately benefit from such an EIS effort, and my hope that you will see the wisdom of it and agree voluntarily to undertake it. In that event, I can assure you that the borough stands ready to participate constructively in every way we can.
Jonathan Oldham, mayor
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