Clean Ocean Action

Offshore Wind Energy

Community members attended COA's Citizen Hearing on February 20, 2024, in Long Branch, NJ, to voice their comments to be submitted for the recrod about six massive offshore wind lease areas off the coast of New Jersey and New York. Comments made at the meeting were captured by a court reporter and will be sent by COA to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) as part of the review process for the Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement on Expected Development of Offshore Wind in the New York Bight." Public comments are due on the Draft PEIS by February 26, 2024, 11:59 PM ET.


 

Concerned about offshore wind energy impacts off the New York/New Jersey coast? 

Read Clean Ocean Action's Offshore Wind Policy Statement here. 

The magnitude, scale, scope, and speed of current offshore wind energy development is reckless. Join Clean Ocean Action in demanding that US President Biden and New Jersey Governor Murphy conduct a comprehensive, reasonable and responsible pilot project to assess the harms to act proactively to reduce future harms. In the meantime, greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced now by accelerating and prioritizing energy reduction and implementing conservation. These are the fastest, cleanest, safest, cheapest ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide (CO2). Offshore wind energy development is getting fast-tracked.Clean Ocean Action is not opposed to responsible and reasonable offshore wind development that supports and sustains a healthy ocean. Our mission is to protect the ocean from pollution and industrialization.

Learn more, and ACT NOW! Check out these links to get started!

DEMAND REASONABLE AND RESPONSIBLE OFFSHORE WIND!

Helpful Resources on offshore wind energy:


COA Comments on Offshore Wind Energy off NY/NJ Coast

Comments Regarding Offshore Wind Leasing:

Comments to NJ Board of Public Utilities on Offshore Wind:

Comments on Specific Offshore Wind Projects:

Atlantic Shores South (projects 1 & 2):

Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind Bight

  1. Click here for COA's Comments on Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind Bight Incidental Harassment Authorization request, July 2023.
  2. Click here for COA's Comments on Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind Bight Incidental Harassment Authorization request, July 2022.
  3. 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)

Attentive Energy:

Community Offshore Energy:

Empire Wind:

  1. COA's Comments on Empire Wind 1 & 2 Draft Environmental Impact Statement 
  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)

Ocean Wind 1:

  1. Click here to review COA's comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Ocean Wind 1 (August 23, 2022)
  2. Click here for COA's comments on Ocean Wind's permit application to harass and/or injure marine life (IHA comments)(April 6, 2022)
  3. Click here for COA's comments on the Ocean Wind Federal Consistency Certification(June 4, 2021)
  4. 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)
  5. Click here for COA's comments on a Notice of Intent (NOI) to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (April 29, 2021)

    Data Gaps & Impacts of Offshore Wind

    Recently, an important report and a federal “opinion” were issued about the impacts of offshore wind (OSW) development on marine resources that validate the need for good science and due diligence. This new information supports Clean Ocean Action’s call for a comprehensive, independent, reasonable, and responsible pilot project to understand the impacts of OSW development on marine and coastal ecosystems prior to large-scale industrialization of the ocean. 

    First, the report “Fisheries and Offshore Wind Interactions: Synthesis of Science,” jointly authored by the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA), and representatives from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), reviews current and past scientific research examining “the interactions between OSW, fisheries, and the marine ecosystems.” What is clear from this report is that critical information is still needed on offshore wind impacts, especially on a cumulative scale to marine ecosystems. Some important findings from the report: 

    • “Because the local effects of benthic habitat modification are multiplied many times within and between OSW development areas, these installations can have population-level effects on regional spatial scales.” 

    • “The impacts on fish species from changes in upwelling, habitat type, and ocean circulation are largely unknown, including cumulative effects.” 

    • “The effects of EMF emissions from high voltage OSW cables on electrically and magnetically sensitive marine fishes are largely unknown.” 

    Second, a recent, disturbing biological opinion announcement by NMFS states that Ocean Wind 1 – the 98-turbine offshore wind project off southern New Jersey – is "likely to adversely affect, but is not likely to jeopardize, the continued existence of any species of ESA-listed whales, sea turtles, or Atlantic sturgeon or destroy or adversely modify any designated critical habitat.” This includes the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, of which there are less than 340 left on Earth. The less than one page opinion was absent analysis, and no document was immediately released for public review until a 600-page document was released days after the announcement.    

    "Not likely to jeopardize the continued existence" of any endangered marine life, does not exude confidence; in fact, it is alarming. Anyone concerned about ocean life should demand the precautionary principle. This “opinion” is especially important since there are dozens of projects with thousands of wind turbines progressing rapidly in the region. Prior to further development, more scientific evidence is needed to ensure the protection of the marine environment. 

    COA Testifies in Congressional Hearing on Whale Deaths & Offshore Wind

    Clean Ocean Action's Executive Director Cindy Zipf was an invited witness for the March 16, 2023 Congressional Hearing in Wildwood, NJ, held by US Representative Jefferson Van Drew and attended by US Reps Chris Smith (R-NJ), Andy Harris (R-MD), and Scott Perry (R-PA). The Hearing was titled, "An Examination into Offshore Wind Industrialization."

    Click here to read Cindy Zipf's Testimony­­


     

    Offshore Wind Companies to Harass Thousands of Whales, Dolphins, & Porpoises

    Offshore wind companies apply for Incidental Harassment Authorizations (IHA) and Incident Take Regulations (ITR) and associated Letter of Authorizations (LOAs) from the National Marine Fisheries Service for site assessment and construction and operation activities in lease areas. Thousands of whales, dolphins, and porpoises will be harassesd for months and years by offshore wind companies and the activities necessary to prepare to build, build, operate, maintain and decomission thousands of offshore wind turbines and related faciliites in the ocean along the East Coast, and beyond. There are many species of marine mammals that live and migrate through the ocean off New York and New Jersey, including the critically endangered North Atlanic right whale, of which there are less than 350 left in the world. Contact Clean Ocean Action about the latest applications to harass marine mammals from offshore wind companies.

    Marine Mammal Harassment Authorizations for Offshore Wind Development off the NY/NJ Coast*

    As of March 2023, there are twelve active and five pending or “in process” Incidental Take Authorizations (ITAs) and Incidental Take Regulations (ITR)/Letters of Authorization (LOA) by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) just for offshore wind energy development activities off the New York and New Jersey coast. Through the IHAs and ITR/LOAs authorization process, numerous companies have requested permission to harass tens of thousands of marine mammals, including threatened, endangered, and otherwise protected species. Using public information supplied by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), COA's Factsheet about harassment authorizations for marine mammals in the ocean off NY/NJ for offshore wind energy power plants outline the current, pending/in-process, and expired marine mammal harassment authorizations and applications in process off the NY/NJ coast.

    According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “[u]nder the 1994 Amendments to the MMPA, harassment is statutorily defined as, any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which:

    • (Level A Harassment) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild; or,
    • (Level B Harassment) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering but which does not have the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild.”*

    *Source: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Adminitration (NOAA)


     

    ­SPEAK FOR THE WHALES! SPEAK FOR THE OCEAN!

    As of March 21, 2023, 12 dead whales have washed ashore in the NY/NJ region, and many dolphins. Clean Ocean Action demands the following actions from the Biden Administration. How many whales must die before common-sense response is taken?

    COA's demands are:

    1.) A thorough, transparent investigation of these whale deaths performed by federal agencies with independent, third-party scientist oversight. The public must have access to all reports from the investigation every step of the way.

    2.) A hard stop to all current in-water activity by the offshore wind industry, until the investigation is complete.

    3.) A hard stop to all new, pending, or planned offshore wind projects. 

     

    Government hid the impacts of offshore wind energy to endangered whales --- what else are they hiding?

    Bloomberg News had to file a request under the Freedom of Information Act to wrench an alarming letter from a federal scientist that highlighted the anticipated impacts from offshore wind energy development on the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale.

    The offshore wind projects are immense, and the numbers are staggering.

    Here are the latest government figures for offshore wind energy plans in the northeast for the next 6 years:

    • 2.4 million acres impacted with 3,400 turbines (as tall as the Chrysler building),
    • 10,000 miles of cable ripping through the seafloor,
    • an additional 5.7 million more acres are under consideration. (Source: NMFS)

    Paving the ocean with offshore wind at the current scale, pace, and magnitude is reckless and will have dire consequences.

    A comprehensive pilot project has NOT been conducted to fairly and fully understand the impacts to marine life and the ocean.


    EXTENSIVE ONSHORE & OFFSHORE IMPACTS FROM LARGE-SCALE OFFSHORE WIND ENERGY

    Marine Life & Coastal Communities at Risk!

    Nationwide, offshore wind development is rapidly expanding in multiple regions of the United States, including the Atlantic Ocean.

    • Over one million acres of open, public ocean has already been leased to develop offshore wind energy off the New York and New Jersey coasts. The 1,033,716 acres already leased off the NY/NJ coast is nearly equal to the size of Grand Canyon National Park. 
    • 25 projects and lease areas for offshore wind off the New Jersey and New York coast are being fast-tracked.
    • In February 2022, a half million acres off the NY/NJ coast were auctioned and sold for nearly $4.4 billion -- the largest offshore wind sale in US history. 
    • In October 2022, NJ Governor Murphy increased the state's offshore wind target almost 50% from 7500 Megawatts by 2030 to 11,000 MW by 2035. 
    • New York’s offshore wind energy goals are 9,000MW by 2035.
    • The ocean off the NY/NJ Coast is ecologically significant & diverse with 28 species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises, 5 species of sea turtles, and 4 species of seals. Endangered species, including the North Atlantic right whale and sea turtles, are at grave risk from offshore wind development. 
    • The impacts -- both onland and offshore -- of the massive industrialization of the ocean with offshore wind energy facilities are unknown.
    • Companies are applying to are applying to “harass, torment, & annoy” thousands of marine mammals, including the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic to build hundreds of enormous wind turbines in the ocean.
    • 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.
    • The federal and state review process is moving forward rapidly.
    • The ocean has borne the brunt of harmful industrial pollution for generations while naturally mitigating the impacts of climate change on the planet.

    COA supports responsible and reasonable offshore wind energy, but this is a reckless privatization, and will not ensure protection of marine life including whales, dolphins, turtles and the hundreds of other species that call the ocean home.

    Clearly, the thousands of acres leased for offshore wind and the more than two dozen projects underway is too much, too fast! COA is not opposed to offshore wind energy but supports a reasonably and responsibly sized pilot project. Let’s be sure offshore wind is not done recklessly but done right. 


    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


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