Biden admin approves massive wind farm amid rising whale death toll

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The Biden administration is green-lighting a massive offshore wind farm off the coast of southern New Jersey despite calls for a pause on such development amid a spate of marine mammal deaths along the Atlantic Coast.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced Wednesday that it is approving the construction and operations plan for Ocean Wind 1, a 1,100-megawatt project that will be located 15 miles off the New Jersey coast, power 380,000 homes and enter commercial operations in 2025. The project will be made up of 98 wind turbines spread across a 68,450-acre lease area.

‘Since Day One, the Biden-Harris administration has worked to jump-start the offshore wind industry across the country – and today’s approval for the Ocean Wind 1 project is another milestone in our efforts to create good-paying union jobs while combatting climate change and powering our nation,’ Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement.

‘Ocean Wind 1 represents another significant step forward for the offshore wind industry in the United States,’ BOEM Director Elizabeth Klein added. ‘The project’s approval demonstrates the federal government’s commitment to developing clean energy and fighting climate change.’

White House National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi said the project, which was first proposed in 2019, is ‘Bidenomics in action’ and not an accident. 

As part of its climate agenda, the Biden administration has aggressively moved forward with rapid offshore wind development across millions of acres of federal waters, primarily along the East Coast. Shortly after taking office, President Biden outlined goals to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030, the most ambitious goal of its kind worldwide.

In May 2021, BOEM approved the 800 megawatt Vineyard Wind project 12 miles off the coast of Massachusetts, marking the first-ever large-scale offshore wind approval. Then, in November 2021, the agency approved the 130-megawatt Southfork Wind project off the coast of Long Island, New York, the second commercial-scale offshore project.

The Ocean Wind 1 project is the third-ever and largest-ever approved offshore wind development.

‘Ocean Wind 1 is on the cusp of making history as construction on New Jersey’s first offshore wind farm is set to begin in a few short months, delivering on the promise of good-paying jobs, local investment and clean energy,’ said David Hardy, the top U.S. executive for Orsted, the Danish energy firm developing the project.

In addition, Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Reps. Donald Norcross and Bill Pascrell both cheered the action Wednesday along with various environmental groups and labor unions.

However, lawmakers, local officials, fishing industry associations and wildlife groups along the Atlantic Coast have called for an offshore wind development moratorium amid an uptick in marine mammal deaths. Since December, at least 39 whales and 37 dolphins have been found stranded on East Coast beaches near where energy developers have been conducting offshore wind surveys, according to local officials. 

And the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a nonpartisan federal agency tasked with conducting oversight of government operations, announced last month it would investigate the potential impact offshore wind development has on wildlife, military operations and commercial fisheries.

‘Despite the GAO beginning to investigate potential harmful impacts of offshore wind development on our national defense, fishing industry, and environment, BOEM has chosen to move full steam ahead ignoring these warning signs,’ Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J., told Fox News Digital in a statement. ‘We are still also seeing an unprecedented number of marine mammals washing ashore, yet offshore wind in New Jersey has cleared one of the last hurdles before full on construction can begin.’ 

‘It is disappointing to see these federal agencies force these projects on Americans in order to meet President Biden’s aggressive Green New Deal agenda rather than doing what is right for our coastal communities, industries, and environment,’ he continued. ‘This fight is still not over and I will continue to use every means possible to halt this industrialization of our ocean. It is truly a fight between right and wrong and I will not give up. God help our coastal communities and our oceans.’

Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., who like Van Drew represents a district along the New Jersey coastline, similarly blasted the Biden administration’s approval Wednesday.

‘Just days after New Jersey Democrats approved massive, taxpayer-funded subsidies for foreign wind developer Orsted, the Biden Administration is once again recklessly greenlighting the unprecedented offshore wind industrialization of our shore before we know all of the potentially catastrophic impacts of these projects,’ Smith told Fox News Digital.

‘These offshore wind projects must — at a minimum — be paused until the Government Accountability Office concludes its ongoing independent investigation,’ he continued. ‘New Jersey residents deserve to have their concerns addressed and questions answered before it is too late.’

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