Home>Congress>Rep. Chris Smith remarks at a Save the Whales rally

Rep. Chris Smith addresses a Save the Whales rally in Point Pleasant Beach in February 2023. (Photo: Office of Rep. Christopher Smith).

Rep. Chris Smith remarks at a Save the Whales rally

By David Wildstein, February 21 2023 4:22 pm

Rep. Christopher Smith (R-Manchester) delivered the following remarks at a Save the Whales rally in Point Pleasant Beach on February 20:

Today, the whales are sending us a tragic message that demands transparency and accountability—both of which has been sorely missing from Governor Murphy’s plan to use New Jersey’s coast as the prime location for the offshore wind industry in the U.S.

Collectively, New Jersey and New York have set the nation’s largest regional offshore wind target by aiming to install over 16 GW of offshore wind energy capacity by 2035.

Questions and concerns raised by me and many others have gone unanswered concerning the unexplained deaths of at least 10 whales.

There is great concern for the potential serious—even catastrophic—damage to marine ecosystems leading to the destruction of the NJ’s fishing and tourism businesses if hundreds, and even thousands, of wind turbines are installed off the New Jersey coast.

Thus far, sound surveys and the underwater noise generated by acoustic vessels have occurred, but next steps include construction, pile driving creating high intensity underwater noise.

What impact does this noise have on whales, dolphins and other mammals and on fragile fish habitats and marine survival?

Without serious, aggressive and independent analysis on the impact of these projects, they must be paused.

Wind turbines are not once installed and done. They only last on the average 20-25 years before having to be replaced.

A month ago, an article in Businessweek with the headline: Wind Turbines Taller than the Statue of Liberty are Falling Over…Breakdowns of towers and blades have bedeviled  manufactures in the US and Europe, noted that Orsted A/S, the world’s largest developer of offshore wind farms, asked authorities in April to stop maritime traffic near some if its sites after blades fell from one of its turbines off the coast of Denmark…”and that “There’s no publicly available industrywide data on turbine failures…”

Orsted, as you know, is developing New Jersey’s first wind farm.

No elected officeholder including President Biden or Governor Murphy—or any bureaucrat—should advance such a sweeping, potentially dangerous policy without meaningful input from the people or by bypassing local officials as happened on Friday to benefit Orsted.

We want the truth.

We demand to be heard and our deep concerns addressed—not trivialized, mocked or dismissed.

The people of New Jersey deserve better.

On Friday, I introduced legislation in the House of Representatives to require the U.S. Government Accountability Office—GAO—to investigate the “sufficiency of the environmental review processes for offshore wind projects…of the Mariene Fisheries Service, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and any other relevant Federal agency.”

Among other concerns, GAO would be required to investigate and report to Congress on the impacts of offshore wind projects on:

  • Whales, finfish, and marine mammals,
  • Commercial and recreational fishing,
  • Recreation and tourism,
  • Invertebrates,
  • Essential fish habitat,
  • Benthic resources,
  • Cultural, historical, and archaeological resources,
  • Sustainability of shoreline beaches and inlets,
  • Military use and navigation/vessel traffic.

The GAO would be tasked to reveal how the agencies determine which stakeholders are consulted, whether a timely, comprehensive comment period is provided for local representatives and interest parties, and the estimated cost and who pays for the offshore wind projects.

Finally, in 2012, New Jersey faced Superstorm Sandy.

The devastation was only matched by our neighbor’s resilience and tenacity to rebuild.

How vulnerable are wind turbines to superstorms, Nor’easters and hurricanes?

One Carnegie Mellon University study in 2012 found that: “There is very substantial risk that Category 3 and higher hurricanes can destroy half or more of the turbines at some locations.”

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