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Southern NJ towns sue over offshore wind reviews, accuse state agency of bias 

Credit:  Amanda Oglesby, Asbury Park Press, Dec. 14, 2023, app.com ~~

A group of southern New Jersey towns are suing for an independent review of a New Jersey offshore wind project and accuse the state department in charge of its environmental assessment of having lost its neutral approach.

Eight coastal towns – Long Beach Township, Beach Haven, Ship Bottom, Barnegat Light, Surf City, Harvey Cedars, Brigantine and Ventnor City – filed a lawsuit in Superior Court, Mercer County, earlier this month. In the lawsuit, they said the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection “prejudged” offshore wind projects under pressure from Gov. Phil Murphy.

The state department acted to “advance the Governor’s ambitious wind-energy policy directives rather than serve as an impartial arbiter of the facts and law,” according to the lawsuit filed by the towns.
An aerial view of the Kentish Flats windfarm viewed show the wind turbine generators.

Last year, Murphy set a goal of having 11 gigawatts of offshore wind energy production off New Jersey’s coast by 2040.

While two New Jersey offshore wind projects have been abandoned by Denmark-based company Ørsted, a third 1.5 gigawatt project is under review by the state department.

That project, Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind, would power 700,000 New Jersey homes with renewable energy, according to the company, which is a joint venture between oil company Shell’s New Energies division and the offshore wind arm of renewable power developer EDF Renewables.

The towns that filed the lawsuit say Atlantic Shores – which would be less than 9 miles from shore at its closest approach – would destroy the ocean view from shore, harm tourism, hamper the state’s commercial fisheries, and cause decades of environmental damage.

“This massive industrialization of the ocean will not only destroy the scenic view from our communities, but it will also destroy our local economies and much of our marine way of life,” Long Beach Township Mayor Joseph Mancini said in a news release. “We can’t count on the DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) to stand up to this immense pressure from the Governor’s Office and make an independent decision.”

Officials with the DEP and New Jersey Office of the Attorney General did not return requests for comment.

“Each of the shore communities (filing the lawsuit) believe strongly that the severe negative impacts of the current Atlantic Shores Project violate the New Jersey coastal regulations designed to protect our shore and coastal resources,” said Frank Huttle III, an attorney representing the eight towns in the lawsuit.

The final phases of the Atlantic Shores development process would have a “drastic” impact on Long Beach Island, he said.

“The wind turbines will extend across the entire island, where the closest points of the leased areas are less than 9 miles off the shore of the center of the island, severely impacting tourism, marine life, the environment and both the local and state economics,” he said.

Atlantic Shores officials say on the project website that offshore wind helps to reduce carbon-based energy use, which is a primary contributor to climate change. Atlantic Shores will also help create thousands of jobs and generate nearly $2 billion of economy activity for New Jersey, according to the company.

Last month, Murphy ordered state officials to prepare another round of bidding for offshore wind developers to propose projects along the New Jersey coast.

“I remain committed to ensuring that New Jersey becomes a global leader in offshore wind – which is critical to our economic, environmental, and clean energy future,” the governor said in a statement in October.

Source:  Amanda Oglesby, Asbury Park Press, Dec. 14, 2023, app.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial educational effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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