Ocean advocates seek more time to review, comment on offshore wind impact study
Credit: Ocean Advocates Seek More Time to Review, Comment on Offshore Wind Impact Study | Public Hearings on Ocean Wind 1 Begin This week | By Gina G. Scala | The SandPaper | July 13, 2022 | www.thesandpaper.net ~~
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Calling a 45-day deadline to review and comment on a 1,400-page draft environmental impact statement for New Jersey’s first offshore wind project “unreasonable and unjust,” Clean Ocean Action is asking the federal government for an additional 60 days to do so. It’s also urging other organizations and private residents to do the same.
Ocean Wind 1 is a joint venture between Ørsted and Public Service Enterprise Group. It is expected to be operational in 2024 and would produce enough electricity to power more than 500,000 homes. Engineering, procurement and construction contracts have recently been awarded.
“This time frame for review is outrageous considering the unprecedented industrialization of both the ocean and Jersey coastline. In fact, the fast-tracking of due process as well as the speed, scope and scale of the industrial expansion in the region is reckless and suggests an unfair Administration bias toward the offshore wind industry, instead of to the natural resources and ecological assets the ocean holds and which the government is entrusted to protect. Show us where such a massive industrialization of an ecosystem has been allowed, and how it resulted in a positive outcome for people and the planet,” Cindy Zipf, COA executive director, said July 8. “If offshore wind is so wonderful as supporters suggest, it should stand up to careful review and scrutiny.”
As proposed, the scope of the project includes up to 98 wind turbine generators, up to three offshore high voltage alternating current substations, inter-array cables linking the individual turbines to the offshore substations, substation interconnector cables linking the substations to each other, offshore export cables, an onshore export cable system, two onshore substations, and connections to the existing electrical grid in New Jersey.
The wind turbine generators, offshore substation and substation interconnector cables would be located in New Jersey’s Outer Continental Shelf, roughly 13 nautical miles (15 statute miles) southeast of Atlantic City. The offshore export cables would be buried below the seabed in the Outer Continental Shelf and state of New Jersey-owned submerged lands. The onshore export cables, substations and grid connections would be located in Ocean and Cape May counties.
In a July 8 letter to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, COA outlined its reasons for the extension request, including the size of the technical document and the precedent-setting nature of the proposal.
“BOEM is not limited to this 45-day time period, which is wildly unrealistic, unjust, and poses undue challenges for all parties interested in providing thorough feedback on this unprecedented document and project, “said Zachary Klein, Esq., policy attorney for the Long Branch-based group. “In the name of transparency and good and fair due process, COA strongly urges BOEM to extend the comment period an additional 60 days.”
A petition launched by COA both digitally and on paper is collecting signatures of residents who support a 60-day extension of the existing public comment period. In one week, the petition had collected over 1,330 signatures, as of July 8. A link to the online petition can be found on COA’s website, cleanoceanaction.org.
“It is essential that offshore wind energy, if done, is done right, and done right from the very beginning,” said Kari Martin, COA advocacy campaign manager. “… the potential risks to the ocean and marine resources are great and grave, especially considering the cumulative impacts from 24 other offshore wind projects and sold lease areas in the region. Too many questions must be considered and answered. We encourage people to sign the petition to demand more time, attend the public hearings, and submit comments on this new, large-scale industrial use of the ocean in the region.”
BOEM, which falls under the Department of the Interior, will hold virtual public hearings at 1 p.m. on Thursday, July 14; 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 20; and 5 p.m. on Tuesday, July 26. Attendees can ask questions and provide oral testimony. Registration information can be found on the Ocean Wind 1 DEIS Virtual Public Hearings page on BOEM’s website, boem.gov.
Under the current public comment time frame, all comments must be received no later than Aug. 8.
“BOEM does not consider anonymous comments. Please include your name and address as part of your comment. BOEM makes all comments, including the names and addresses of respondents, available for public review online and during regular business hours. Individual respondents may request that BOEM withhold their names, addresses, or any other personal identifiable information included in their comment from the public record; however, BOEM cannot guarantee that it will be able to do so,” according to the notice of availability.
If members of the public wish to have their name, address or other personal information withheld, they must submit a request prominently in a cover letter and explain the harm they fear from its disclosure, such as unwarranted privacy invasion, embarrassment or injury.
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