Offshore windmills will cost Cape May, NJ, $1B in tourism revenue – report
Credit: Eric Scott | Published: May 26, 2023 | nj1015.com ~~
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Cape May County Commissioners have unanimously passed a resolution opposed to offshore wind projects and vow to continue to fight the installation of wind mills off the coast.
A report supporting the resolution claims the windmills will cost Cape May County more than $1.1 billion in lost tourism revenue and will have a devastating impact on food service, hospitality, retail, rental housing and other segments of the local economy.
Wind developer Orsted, the report claims, has admitted 15% of tourists will not return to Cape May once its windmill project is completed and that its turbines will be visible from every beach in Cape May County.
Cape May County Board of Commissioners Director Len Desiderio said in a statement that the county had been trying to work with Orsted to try and mitigate the negative impacts of the Ocean Wind One offshore wind generation facilities project, but “as time went by, it became clear that Orsted was not interested in finding any compromise.”
“It is clear to us now that the approach among this foreign corporation and their partners in the state and federal governments is to build these things as fast as they can despite the potential for devastating environmental and economic impacts, ” Desiderio said.
Cape May County has hired a Virginia environmental law firm and former New Jersey Superior Court Judge Michael J. Donohue as Special Counsel in preparation for legal action against Orsted and state and local government agencies.
“The Commissioners have authorized the exploration of legal challenges on all fronts, including challenges to NJDEP permits and a host of federal permits that will be issued over the coming months,” Donohue said in a statement.
“We cannot sit quietly by as hundreds of windmills are installed off our beaches as state and federal government agencies ignore our legitimate and serious concerns.” —Len Desiderio
Cape May County has joined an existing legal challenge brought by Ocean City over the permitting process.
Many local towns have complained Phil Murphy’s administration and the board of public utilities usurped local authority and rubber-stamped blanket permits for work to begin, without the approval or consultation of municipalities impacted by the projects.
“There are those out there [sic] motivated not by a concern for our environment, but by their own political ideologies.” —Phil Murphy
Despite growing opposition, Gov. Phil Murphy has refused to halt any of the wind project work so it’s potential impacts can be further studied.
Cape May is citing the severe economic impact to its tourism industry, but many also continue to question the impact to marine life.
Some have tried to link an increase in the number of whale and dolphin strandings to sonar mapping connecting to the wind projects. To date, there is little to no scientific evidence to support that claim, but most agree more study needs to be done.
The issue has also become one of intense political debate, with Republican and Democratic members of the New Jersey State Legislature each holding hearings on the matter with experts supporting their disparate positions.
A protest against the wind project will be held in Ocean City on Saturday, May 27. Opponents will gather at Soifer Park at 9:30 a.m., and then march along the Route 52 Causeway. Members of the public are welcome to join.
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