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An offshore wind farm. (Photo: Environment America).

Assembly convenes hearings on connection between offshore wind and whale deaths

Tully will chair hearing set for May 18

By David Wildstein, May 11 2023 9:48 am

A Bergen County assemblyman in a potentially competitive re-election campaign this fall will lead a legislative hearing on the possible link between offshore wind farms and the death of whales and dolphins next week to hear from experts in the scientific community.

The Assembly Science, Innovation and Technology Committee, chaired by Christopher Tully (D-Bergenfield), has invited subject experts from government and academia to discuss what has been described as an ‘unusual mortality event” on May 18 in Trenton.

The Democratic-controlled Assembly announced the hearings one week after a group of GOP state senators held their own hearing on an issue that Republicans in New Jersey and nationally, appear to be more aggressive in framing.

The issue of marine mammal fatalities has become a political issue in New Jersey in advance of this year’s legislative midterm elections.   It’s pitting some environmentalists and clean energy stakeholders against a public perception, fueled by some elected officials, that the construction of offshore windmills is related to dead whales and dolphins washing up on the Jersey shore.

A Fairleigh Dickinson University poll released today shows New Jerseyans are split over offshore wind farm development – and become markedly opposed to it when prompted by a link to marine mammal deaths.

“The argument that the wind farms are hurting cute, smart animals just craters support,” said Dan Cassino, the poll director.   “People concerned about the environment want to have green energy, but put that up against dolphins, and the dolphins are going to win every time.”

Tully, a three-term lawmaker and former district director to Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff), represent the 38th district, one of those targeted by Republicans in the upcoming election.

Although leadership has the option of substituting committee members based on scheduling issues,  Democrats on the panel are Linda Carter (D-Plainfield), Bill Moen (D-Camden), and Ellen Park (D-Englewood Cliffs).   The Republicans on the Science, Innovation and Technology Committee are Christopher DePhillips (R-Wyckoff), Christian Barranco (R-Jefferson), and DeAnne DeFuccio (R-Upper Saddle River).

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