BRIELLE – Clean Ocean Action [COA] is opposing the federal government’s leasing of nearly 1 million acres of federal waters off New Jersey for private wind farms that could see nearly 600 turbines installed in the first round, and many hundreds more in a second round.
COA is the environmental nonprofit that conducts biannual beach sweeps along the Jersey Shore. COA’s executive director, Cindy Zipf, gave a presentation on March 3 at the Brielle Public Library, hosted by another nonprofit, Art for Sea.
Because wind energy is renewable, Ms. Zipf said, COA would not oppose a small, pilot project of about 50 turbines developed in a responsible way and then evaluated for its effect on the marine ecosystem, before a larger project is attempted.
But the massive-scale development already approved off the Jersey Shore is “reckless privatization” that is “too much, too fast,” Ms. Zipf said.
According to COA, offshore turbines may affect marine life in a variety of ways, including added heat, noise, electromagnetic fields, habitat changes, alterations to food webs, invasive species, turbidity from sediment stirred up and pollution from additional vessel traffic.
In the first round of offshore leasing in 2016 and 2017, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management [BOEM] auctioned off 425,000 acres of federal waters along the Jersey Shore where three wind farms are to be developed. These include:
• Empire Wind, from Sandy Hook to Long Branch, operated by the Norwegian petroleum company Equinor;
• Atlantic Shores, off Long Beach Island, a joint venture by Shell New Energies US LLC and EDF Renewables North America in San Diego; and
• Ocean Wind, off Atlantic City, operated by the Danish company Ørsted Wind Power North America LLC in conjunction with the Public Service Enterprise Group, the parent company of PSE&G.
Altogether, 584 turbines are to be installed in the ocean on those wind farms, located from 10 to 20 miles offshore.
In a second leasing round on Feb. 23 this year, the BOEM auctioned off another 488,201 acres of federal waters farther out to sea, along the New York Bight that stretches from Sandy Hook south to off Ocean and Atlantic counties. An unknown number of additional wind turbines would be installed there. Private developers, mostly from Europe, paid $4.37 billion for the 30-year leases.
One of the wind farm firms in the first round, Atlantic Shores, plans to lay a cable that would have a landfall at the Army National Guard Training Center in Sea Girt.
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