Long Island, with its rich history, stunning landscapes and vibrant communities, is a place we’re proud to call home. Long Islanders are deeply concerned about the proposed Equinor wind turbine project, Empire Wind, and its potential to adversely affect our health, safety and economy. It is essential that we carefully examine the implications of this project and the individuals behind it.
Equinor, formerly known as Statoil, is 67 percent owned by Norway and is a partner of BP Oil. Equinor has a dubious past, having been sanctioned by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2003 for bribing Iranian officials. It is concerning that a company with such a history would be involved in a project of this scale on Long Island. Furthermore, the state sponsors of the bill supporting Empire Wind are associated with current antisemitic stances that raise questions about their priorities and alliances.
Long Island is densely populated, and a project of this magnitude has never been attempted in such a setting, let alone making landfall. Equinor’s plan to install 345-kilovolt copper wires mere feet from residences is alarming. Equinor compares the electromagnetic field generated by these wires to a toaster oven, but the potential health risks cannot be underestimated. Statistically significant studies indicate that even a small increase in electromagnetic field exposure can double the chances of cancer or leukemia, especially among children and fetuses. The proposed wires would emit 25 to 80 milligauss of EMF radiation, making it a significant health concern for our communities.
Local governments, including the Village of Island Park and the Long Beach City Council, are vehemently opposed to this project. New York is a Home Rule state, and the state Public Service Commission should not have the power to override local land-use authority merely for developer convenience. The health and safety of our communities should always come first.
The materials used in wind turbines, such as epoxy resin and glass fiber, contain bisphenol A, a known endocrine disruptor. This substance can lead to various health issues, including developmental problems, reproductive issues, metabolic disorders, and cancer. Moreover, 1 kilogram of bisphenol A can contaminate 10 billion liters of water.
The erosion of turbine blades would release bisphenol A nanoparticles into the ocean, potentially entering our food chain when fish ingest them. Rainwater can also carry these nanoparticles into our drinking water aquifer, and they cannot be effectively filtered out. With 200 turbines, each with blades as long as a football field, the potential for contamination would be substantial.
Assembly Bill A2888, titled “Clean Energy Outreach and Community Planning Program,” highlights the importance of collaboration between host communities and renewable energy developers. Yet there has been near to no collaboration or outreach to the communities most affected. In fact, the public outcry has not only revealed a lack of local support for the Equinor project, but also brought into question whether, until Oct. 20, the interests of Long Islanders were being considered at all.
We are deeply thankful to Gov. Kathy Hochul for listening to her suburban constituents and for vetoing the “Planned Offshore Wind Transmission Act” two weeks ago. Her decision reflects the power of democracy, where elected officials are ultimately accountable to their constituents.
What followed the governor’s veto, however, was deeply troubling. Some Democratic politicians, who were not only supporters of the project but actively fought to advance it, are now trying to claim credit for its likely defeat. The Nassau County Democratic Party chairman’s statement that “It’s Democrats that get things done” is, frankly, laughable. Their efforts throughout this process were entirely in favor of pushing the Equinor project forward, not in line with the will and concerns of the Long Island community.
Long Islanders must remain vigilant against attempts to rewrite the Empire Wind narrative for political gain. The people of Long Island have spoken, and they deserve the credit for their unwavering dedication to preserving their health, safety, and way of life. It is a triumph for democracy, a reminder that the voice of the people can and should prevail, and a testament to the power of community activism. Long Island’s future depends on it.
Ari Brown represents the 20th Assembly District.
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