Clean Ocean Action

OCEAN AT RISK: MASSIVE FULL-SCALE OCEAN INDUSTRIALIZATION WITHOUT CAUTION FOR MARINE LIFE

BOEM Announces Final Sale Notice for an additional nearly 500,000 acres for offshore wind in NY/NJ Bight 

On January 12, 2022, the US Department of Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced a Final Sale Notice for nearly half a million acres of open public ocean off the New York/New Jersey coast for offshore wind energy development. The announcement was made by the Department of Interior as well as the Governors of New York and New Jersey, who released a "Shared Vision" document for offshore wind development in the NY/NJ region: https://www.boem.gov/renewable-energy/state-activities/new-york-bight.

 

CONCERNED?

  • Click here for COA's Factsheet on Offshore Wind off the NY/NJ Coast

  • SIGN-UP* to find out how to support reasonable and responsible offshore wind development off the NY/NJ coast and to receive pertinent information from Clean Ocean Action about public comment opportunities, proposals, and other offshore wind related updates.

  • *COA does not sell or share contact information & will solely use this list for communicating about offshore wind energy.

A Giant, Reckless Step to Selling the Open, Public Ocean!

On December 16, 2021, the Biden-Harris Administration took a giant, reckless step toward selling the Atlantic Ocean to private offshore wind developers – including giant polluting fossil fuel companies like BP,Shell, and Statoil, which is like letting the fox in the hen house. They are paving the way forhundreds of thousands of acres of beautiful, diverse, public ocean to be industrialized off the coast of New Jersey and New York. 

Clean Ocean Action (COA) had called for a “pause” on the leasing 800,000 acres(which is 30 times the size of Disney World) for offshore wind when proposed in earlier 2021. Over 423,000 acres with nearly 600 turbines are currently proposed off New Jersey. It’s too much, too fast!! 

Scientists are clear: very little is known about the impacts to marine life from this massive industrialization. COA is not opposed to offshore wind energy but supports reasonably and responsibly sized pilot projects.

Even with this lack of science, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced a “Finding of No Significant Impact” (FONSI) for offshore wind energy leasing activities in over 800,000 acres off the NY/NJ Coast after completing and announcing their final Environmental Assessment, which green lights the sale of these vast, beautiful ocean waters.

This latest action declares “open season” on these ecologically rich waters, which have borne the brunt of harmful industrial pollution for generations while naturally mitigating the impacts of climate change on the planet.

And...please don’t be fooled by the term “NY Bight" used by BOEM! The 800,000 acres in this recent announcement are located off the NJ Shore (see map to the right), making this region the environmental sacrifice zone.

Altogether, the proposed lease sale area plus the existing areas already set aside for offshore wind off the NY/NJ coast total 1.28 million acres – that’s larger than Grand Canyon National Park!

This is not an ocean sacrifice zone!

Safer, faster, cleaner, easier alternatives exist onshore & can be implemented NOW. 

For a downloadable copy of this alert, click here.


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!

Nearly 1 MILLION ACRES of open, public ocean slated for offshore wind:

  • At least 423,000 acres of ocean already have been sold and leased to private offshore wind developers

  • 488,201additional acres of ocean in the NY/NJ Bight are UP FOR LEASE SALE for massive industrialization

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


LEARN THE FACTS!

Click here for COA's Offshore Wind Factsheet  or read below...

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 550+ 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 423,000 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.

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 just off the NY/NJ coast alone!

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. Click here to review COA's comments to BOEM for the agency's preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind projects off New Jersey’s coast. (November 2021)
  2. 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)
  3. COA's Comments to NJDEP on Federal Consistency Certification of Equinor’s Empire Wind project (September 4, 2021)
  4. COA's comments to BOEM on Empire Wind 1 & 2 - BOEM Notice of Intent to Prepare and Environmental Impact Statement (On July 26, 2021)
  5. 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)
  6. 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)
  7. 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.
  8. 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). 

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.

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