Clean Ocean Action

Offshore Wind Off the NY/NJ Coast

Responsible & Reasonable Offshore Wind is a Part of the Climate Change Solutions

But...The Ocean is at Risk from TOO MUCH, TOO FAST INDUSTRIALIZATION & PRIVATIZATION!

Over 1.2 MILLION ACRES of open, public ocean slated for offshore wind:

  • 425,000 acres of ocean already have been sold and leased to private offshore wind developers

  • 800,000 additional acres of ocean are FOR SALE for massive industrialization

  • Offshore wind decades away; Climate change reducing action needed now on land

A total of 1.28 million acres of ocean is slated for offshore wind energy off the NY/NJ coast, which is larger than Grand Canyon National Park!

Get Informed & Take Action!


NEW OPPORTUNITY TO TAKE ACTION TO PROTECT OCEAN RESOURCES

Public Meetings & Comments Due – November 1
Environmental Impacts of 200 Offshore Wind Turbines for “Atlantic Shores” Project

The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy management (BOEM) is seeking public input to “identify issues and potential alternatives” for the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind projects off New Jersey’s coast. Proposed by Shell New Energies US LLC and EDF Renewables North America, the projects would be located approximately 8.7 miles from the New Jersey shoreline at the closest point.

BOEM will determine whether to approve, approve with modifications, or disapprove Atlantic Shores’ construction and operations plan (COP).

The public is urged to submit written comments (online or by mail) by 11:59pm on November 1, 2021, or provide oral comments during the 3 public meetings (see below).

Details of the Projects:

  • 8.7 miles from the NJ coast and out to 20 miles off the areas between Atlantic City and Barnegat Light,
  • up to 200 total wind turbines,
  • up to 10 offshore substations,
  • one permanent meteorological tower,
  • up to four temporary meteorological and oceanographic buoys,
  • inter-array and inter-link cables,
  • up to two onshore substations,
  • one operations and maintenance facility, and
  • up to 8 transmission cables making landfall at up to two New Jersey locations: The Atlantic Landfall site in Atlantic City, NJ, and/or, Monmouth Landfall site in Sea Girt, NJ.

Expected impacts to be analyzed in the EIS:

Air quality, water quality, bats, benthic habitat, essential fish habitat, invertebrates, finfish, birds, marine mammals, terrestrial and coastal habitats and fauna, sea turtles, wetlands and other waters of the United States, commercial fisheries and for-hire recreational fishing, cultural resources, demographics, employment, economics, environmental justice, land use and coastal infrastructure, navigation and vessel traffic, other marine uses, recreation and tourism, and visual resources.

For Clean Ocean Action’s questions and concerns about offshore wind energy off the NY/NJ coast, click here

BOEM’s Virtual Public Meetings:

  • Tuesday, October 19, 2021, at 5:00 PM ET
  • Thursday, October 21, 2021, at 1:00 PM ET
  • Monday, October 25, 2021, at 5:00 PM ET

For information & registration go to Atlantic Shores Virtual Meeting Room.

Important Links:

Next Steps:

“Following the comment period, BOEM will publish a scoping report and use the comments received during the public scoping process to help identify important resources and issues, impact-producing factors, reasonable alternatives for consideration, and potential mitigating measures that should be analyzed in the Atlantic Shores Draft EIS.”

How to Comment by November 1 at 11:59pm:

According to the Federal Register notice announcing the public comment period, comments can be submitted:

  1. During any of the virtual public meetings. BOEM will limit testimony to five minutes per speaker.
  2. By mail or delivery service, enclosed in an envelope labeled, “Atlantic Shores Wind COP EIS” and addressed to Program Manager, Office of Renewable Energy, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, 45600 Woodland Road, Sterling, Virginia 20166; or
  3.  Through the regulations.gov web portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov and type Docket No. BOEM-2021-0057 in the search bar. Click “Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind Projects Offshore New Jersey.” Click on the “Comment” button under the title. Follow the online instructions for submitting your comment. Enter your information and comment, or attach a comment by following the instructions, then click “Submit Comment.”

Climate Action Now: No time to waste!

  • Fact: human use of fossil fuels is causing accelerated climate change.
  • Climate change is threatening all life on Earth.
  • The ocean has buffered climate impacts, but to her own demise with sea-level rise and ocean acidification.
  • A healthy ocean is key to helping reduce impacts from climate change. 
  • It will take decades to install and build offshore wind projects; we must prioritize onshore energy conservation, efficiency, and renewable energy.

The Ocean Off the NY/NJ Coast:

  • is the most diverse with 28 species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises, 5 species of sea turtles, and 4 species of seals.
  • has hundreds of species of fish and birds that depend on the region for home, food, or migration.
  • is home or host to endangered animals, including one most at risk, the North Atlantic Right Whale.
  • provides sustainable seafood for millions of people each year locally and around the world.
  • is VERY busy—flanked by the #1 port on the East Coast, NY/NJ Harbor, and by the Port of Philadelphia.     

An Ocean Industrialization Experiment is Already Underway off New York & New Jersey:

  • Massive industrialization is already underway with roughly 400 offshore wind turbines proposed -- and more on the
    way -- with unknown impacts from noise, electromagnetic fields, and massive onshore and offshore infrastructure. 
  • Rushed and uninformed development puts marine life at risk and is rife with possible unintended consequences.
  • Nearly half million acres are already privatized -- sold to big energy (including “Big Oil”).
  • The nearly 425,000 acres already sold is roughly:
    • 2 times the size of all 5 Boroughs of New York City
    • Nearly 5 times the size of Las Vegas, NV
    • Nearly 1.5 times the size of Los Angeles, CA
  • Marine mammals, including endangered species, are at grave risk from vessel strikes and noise. 
  • New turbines are huge – as tall as the Empire State Building (without antenna).
  • Large onshore construction sites for offshore wind have yet to be developed.
  • Full development is nearly 10 years away—far too slow to meet the climate challenges of today. The estimated completion of offshore wind projects in the NJ wind energy areas is 2035.

800,00 ACRES MORE ARE NOW FOR SALE: THAT’S TOO MUCH, TOO FAST

On June 11, 2021, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced a proposed sale for 800,000 acres of public ocean waters (eight auction areas) for offshore wind development on the Outer Continental Shelf off the NY/NJ coast. These proposed lease sales are in addition to the nearly 425,000 acres already sold for offshore wind.
To put the numbers in perspective, the areas of ocean in this next lease sale are nearly twice the size of the existing sold leases!!! Comparatively, the 800,000 acres for sale is roughly:

  • 30 times the size of Disney World in Florida, the largest amusement park in the world.
  • Over 1.5 times the size of Smoky Mountain National Park.
  • Nearly 1,000 times the size of Central Park in New York City.

TOO FAST: BOEM is fast-tracking the process, seeking bidders before the Environmental Assessment, which evaluates the marine life at risk, has been completed for these lease areas.

TOO MUCH: IN TOTAL, Over 1 Million Acres Slated for Offshore Wind Energy

Combined, the areas off the coast already sold and proposed for sale for offshore wind energy development, total 1.28 million acres, which is larger than the Grand Canyon National Park! Once the lease areas are sold, they are no longer public lands. Current laws do not fully protect ocean resources from harm. Right now, only the court of public opinion can protect these lands and the ocean resources.

CLIMATE PROTECTION ACTION IS NEEDED NOW!

  • The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released in August 2021 indicates climate change is widespread, rapid, and intensifying worldwide, and robust action must be taken within this decade.
  • However, proposed offshore wind projects and on-land construction sites are in their infancy and will take years to get approved, constructed, and put into operation. No onshore construction facilities are on-line and could take years to develop. The projection for completion of these massive offshore wind facilities is, at best, 2030-2035 or beyond without challenges from hurricanes, storms, offshore construction, and other delays.
  • The ocean and planet cannot wait decades for offshore wind; it is only part of the climate change solutions needed.
  • Immediate solutions to address climate change must not adversely impact the very resources that need to be protected.
  • CHEAPER, SAFER, EASIER: It is imperative to PRIORITIZE, EXPEDITE, and IMPLEMENT ONSHORE GREEN OPTIONS NOW, including more energy reduction requirements and efficiency measures. The GREENEST energy of all is the energy people do not use, and it can save people thousands of dollars.

OFFSHORE WIND MUST BE REASONABLE & RESPONSIBLE TO PROTECT OCEAN RESOURCES

Clean Ocean Action (COA) supports responsible and reasonable offshore wind (OSW) energy development; this includes operation, management, and decommissioning, as well as the associated onshore infrastructure. Notably, many marine scientists agree that little is known about the harm from this industrialization of the ocean, especially at the magnitude, scale, and speed of development currently proposed. This fast-tracked scope and scale of offshore wind energy development off the NY/NJ coast is not reasonable or responsible because of all the unknowns.  


Updates & COA Comments on Offshore Wind Energy off NY/NJ Coast

  1. COA's Comments to BOEM on NY Bight Draft Environmental Assessment on Leasing 800,000 acres of ocean off the NY/NJ coast for offshore wind energy development (September 23, 2021)
  2. COA's Comments to NJDEP on Federal Consistency Certification of Equinor’s Empire Wind project (September 4, 2021)
  3. COA's comments to BOEM on Empire Wind 1 & 2 - BOEM Notice of Intent to Prepare and Environmental Impact Statement (On July 26, 2021)
  4. Click here for Clean Ocean Action's commentson the New York Bight Notice of Preparation of an Environmental Assessment for Commercial Wind Lease Issuance and Site Assessment Activities on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Offshore New York; MMAA104000; Docket No. BOEM-2021-0021-0002. (April 2021)
  5. Click here for Clean Ocean Action's comments on a Notice of Intent (NOI) to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the review of a construction and operations plan (COP) for Ocean Wind, LLC’s Proposed Wind Energy Facility Offshore New Jersey, Docket No. BOEM-2021-0024 (April 2021)
  6. Click the links below for information and resources presented during Clean Ocean Action's "Lunch and Learn" informational Zoom webinar on July 22, 2020, "Offshore Wind Energy Development Off NY/NJ." The webinar provided an overview of offshore wind development, touching upon topics such as why states are investing in offshore wind energy, who regulates the development of offshore wind, and what are the environmental concerns related to offshore wind development.   
  • A recording of the webinar can be accessed here. 
  • View Clean Ocean Action's Policy Attorney's presentation slides by clicking here.
  • At the end of the webinar, Clean Ocean Action held a question and answer session. Clean Ocean Action staff attempted to answer as many questions as possible but were unable to address all. As a follow-up, Clean Ocean Action prepared the document, “Public Questions & Answers from 7/22/2020 Webinar: Offshore Wind Energy Development off NJ,” that answers the remaining questions raised by attendees. The questions are sorted by topic area.  
  • Several acronyms are used throughout this document. To see a full list of acronyms relevant to offshore wind development, consult Appendix A - Clean Ocean Action Offshore Wind Energy Development Acronym List (or click here for Appendix A). 
  • NJ BPU Offshore Wind Strategic Plan & Second Solicitation for Offshore Wind Projects off NJ: The first was the release of the Draft Offshore Wind Strategic Plan, which is designed to act as a blueprint for New Jersey’s development of 7,500 MW of offshore wind energy by 2035. The second was the release of the Draft Guidance Document for the Second Solicitation, which outlines the application requirements for offshore wind developers seeking approval to be the second offshore wind farm in New Jersey. The BPU held a public hearing on both documents and the hearings were attended by a wide range of stakeholders including COA.  Read COA's final comments on the Offshore Wind Strategic PlanRead COA's comments on the NJBPU Draft Guidance Document for the Second Solicitation on Offshore Wind Development.

Clean Ocean Action & Offshore Wind Energy:

For over 37 years, COA has been the leading coalition successfully campaigning to improve and protect the waters in the region known as the New York/New Jersey Bight. These shared waters have a long history.  COA’s campaigns have ended ocean dumping, resulting in the closing of eight disposal sites, blocked five offshore liquefied natural gas export/import facilities, and prevented commercial seafloor strip-mining for aggregate, offshore oil and gas drilling proposals and associated seismic activities, and other industrialization activities that threaten the marine ecosystem.  Thus, COA speaks from this extensive knowledge and commitment to the region. 

Despite the progress made in improving the ocean off the NY/NJ coast, the ocean remains threatened, especially due to climate change. Climate change does (and has for decades) represent an existential threat, and all efforts must be made to reduce the causes, particularly the reduction of carbon emissions. However, this new industry, untested in the USA, requires additional investigation of areas with a focus on comprehensive, inclusive assessments of all offshore wind life-cycle impacts.  

Further, the need for good governance and responsible development is now critical with the recent accelerated scope and magnitude of cumulative offshore wind activities under President Biden’s Executive Order 14008, combined with the exuberance from New York and New Jersey state governments.  This rush to build in the ocean, and now in WEAs, is inconsistent with responsible management.  BOEM and state agencies appear to continue to apply outdated, silo-based environmental assessments and strategies, which may be in violation of their NEPA mandate.  BOEM has required little to no comprehensive cumulative assessment, and there has been a lack of good governance in evaluating current activities. 

A healthy coastal ecosystem depends on the dramatic reduction of fossil fuel energy consumption and the establishment of a comprehensive energy policy that, first and foremost, puts a premium on energy conservation and efficiency.  Subsequent to these steps, Clean Ocean Action (COA) supports the responsible development of offshore wind energy (OSW) off the coasts of New Jersey and New York, which is a firm step toward reducing reliance on fossil fuel energy sources.  Responsible development means that pre-planning, oversight, and precaution must be required before any OSW development occurs. 

Specifically, COA calls for comprehensive ecological baseline studies, standardized data collection methods, ecological performance standards, risk analyses, pilot studies, and the recognition of the importance of meaningful public participation in all stages of the process.  These requirements are consistent with the recent federal government initiatives to integrate ocean resource uses and users.   Under the National Ocean Policy and Framework for Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning, any coastal or ocean program should protect, maintain, and restore the health and biological diversity of the ecosystem.  These goals go hand-in-hand with COA’s call for precaution and pre-planning.

In sum, it is essential for offshore wind development to be done correctly and well.  Overarching Policy: To ensure the reasonsable, responsible, and environmentally sustainable development of Offshore Wind in the New York/ New Jersey Bight.

Headquarters:

49 Avenel Blvd.
Long Branch, NJ 07740

Field Office:

Gateway National Recreation Area
Sandy Hook, New Jersey

Voice: (732) 872-0111
FAX: (732) 872-8041


Charity Navigator, "Your Guide to Intelligent Giving"