Articles filed under Impact on Wildlife from New Jersey
This was a great year for golden eagles, with a record 50 of them seen at NJ Audubon’s Cape May Hawkwatch, mostly last month. Or at least it was a great year until Dec. 6, when the U.S. government announced it would allow wind farms and other projects to kill federally protected eagles for the next 30 years.
Years ago, it would have been hard to stir up an argument over the need for solar panels or windmills to boost the state's production of clean energy.
New Jersey and Delaware environmental officials say a wind farm planned for the Delaware Bay could disturb an important flyway for birds. Delsea Energy of Toms River, N.J., has a plan to construct 106 turbines in the upper Delaware Bay, on the New Jersey side of the shipping channel that divides Garden State waters from those controlled by Delaware.
State environmental officials oppose wind turbines anywhere in the Delaware Bay, a position that could jeopardize an Ocean County firm's plans for a wind park there. The Department of Environmental Protection cited potential threats to migratory birds, oyster seed beds and other resources in an Aug. 20 letter to Delsea Energy, of Toms River. Scott Brubaker, the DEP's assistant commissioner for land use management, wrote "the Delaware Bay is not an appropriate area for development of wind energy."
A host of New Jersey environmental officials and scientists have lined up against another proposed "wind farm" in the Delaware Bay. In an Aug. 20 letter, Scott Brubaker, an assistant commissioner of the New Jersey state Department of Environmental Protection, listed numerous concerns about Delsea Energy's proposal for a 42 square mile field of wind turbines off the Cumberland County shore.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is being pressed behind-the-scenes to drop its opposition to wind farms in Delaware Bay, an internationally recognized migratory bird stopover, according to e-mails released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Documents reveal a powerful South Jersey Senator and a former DEP Commissioner pushing to reverse a DEP scientific finding that Delaware Bay "is not appropriate for a large-scale wind turbine project due to...impacts to migratory and other bird populations."
Turbines already are taking a heavy toll in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Game Commission released a report last spring showing the death rate is highest for bats, which additionally face being wiped out by a mysterious phenomenon called "white-nose syndrome." The evidence has mounted since studies in 2004 showed 1,500 to 4,000 bats annually were killed by the 44 turbines on West Virginia's Backbone Mountain.
The board voted 8-2 today, after two hours of public comment, in favor of Public Service Electric & Gas Co.'s proposed 45-mile, $750 million high-voltage power line project that opponents testified would ravage the land -- hurting flora and fauna -- and damage the region's natural beauty.
Wind farms occasionally kill birds and their construction disrupts marine life, a new broad survey shows. But the results of the report will have no immediate effect on New Jersey's massive offshore wind projects, state officials said Monday. The 312-page report by the state Department of Environmental Protection offers few details on the overall impact of the almost 300 wind turbines slated to be built off the coast of Atlantic City.
Consultants for the state Department of Environmental Protection drafted the 312-page report, contending wind farms may limit recreational and commercial fishing and boating, disrupt marine life because of the current running through large electrical lines and temporarily destroy fish habitats as they are constructed. But they also said the turbine infrastructure eventually would act as artificial habitat for some fish, improving their survival.
The industrialization of the ocean, coastal overdevelopment, contaminated sites and global warming will be among the top environmental issues in the Garden State next year, observers said. "What we're seeing is a gold rush toward energy development in the ocean," said Tim Dillingham, executive director of the American Littoral Society, a Sandy Hook-based coastal conservation coalition. "We gotta take better care of the coast," he said.
Ongoing studies of birds, marine mammals and sea turtles off the Jersey Shore have found an abundance of life in an area where hundreds of wind turbines could be spinning by 2020, participants in a public meeting said today. ..."We're trying to figure out where are the areas of sensitive habitat, if you will, areas that perhaps we should think twice about or avoid before we build something," he said. "The objective here is to try and steer these facilities to areas where impacts will be reduced."
The federal program that would allow wind turbines offshore seems to be "very industry-driven," said Jennifer Samson, principal scientist for Clean Ocean Action, following a federal Minerals Management Service workshop on proposed rules. The "MMS acknowledges that they don't know . . . the environmental consequences of this development," said Tim Dillingham, executive director of the American Littoral Society, a Sandy Hook-based coastal conservation group. "They have no standards and a free-for-all approach to this."
Will the state Division of Fish and Wildlife prevent tall wind turbines from being constructed in any location south of Stone Harbor to protect migratory birds and bats? Cape May's Energy Committee, at a July 24 meeting, discussed limitations the state may place on building a tall wind turbine anywhere on Cape Island. Interim City Manager Bruce MacLeod, also a member of the energy committee, said the state has proposed drawing a line of demarcation 10 kilometers (6.21 miles) from the end of state or about six miles from the end of the Garden State Parkway for high wind turbines. Any wind turbines south of that line would have to be of limited height. ...At a July 22 Cape May City Council meeting, Deputy Mayor Linda Steenrod said the proposed 10 kilometer rule would limit what the city could do with a wind turbine.
A large swath off the New Jersey coast will be studied beginning in January to assess wildlife density where offshore windmill farms may be built as an alternative energy source, the state Department of Environmental Protection said Friday. The 18-month survey will focus on the 70 or so miles of coast between Seaside Park in Ocean County and Stone Harbor in Cape May County and extend as far as 20 nautical miles, or 23 miles, offshore. ...Although the study stems from a recommendation from a May 2006 report from the state's blue ribbon panel on developing wind energy farms in New Jersey, Jeff Tittel, executive director of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club, said the research is unnecessary and just delays the construction.
Environmentalists are divided over whether "wind farms" are an Earth-friendly source of power. Timothy P. Dillingham, director of the New Jersey chapter of the American Littoral Society, is a member of the blue-ribbon panel that studied the issue. He and his organization oppose the idea..."We are talking about building an industrial facility out in the ocean," he said. "There is no framework, no set of regulations to ensure public protection. People think there is money to be made. People think there is some answer to global warming here. Caution is being thrown to the wind, so to speak."
Bluewater Wind would like to put wind turbines at least 6 nautical miles, or nearly 7 regular miles, offshore for two reasons, a company official says. "All our ornithologists and . . . all the avian experts tell us" that nearly all migratory bird flyways are much closer to land, and the issue of whether wind turbines can be seen is "almost a nonissue because it's so far out," said Jim Lanard, director of strategic planning and communications. But David Mizrahi, an avian ecologist and vice president of research for the New Jersey Audubon Society, said, "I'd be a lot more cautious about (the bird issue) than he is."
Offshore wind facilities are expected to have negligible to minor environmental impacts in general - "if the proper siting and mitigation measures are followed," a draft study says. But some activists faulted the draft environmental impact statement by the federal Minerals Management Service. The document covers technologies for tapping offshore wind, wave and current energy. The agency jumped to conclusions about the risks without having adequate information, said Eric Stiles, vice president for conservation and stewardship in the New Jersey Audubon Society. "It's grossly premature to conclude," for example, that impacts on birds will be only moderate, Stiles said.
New Jersey's plan to spend $4.5 million to study birds and marine life offshore prior to a pilot project with up to 80 wind turbines has drawn mixed views from activists. "Our ocean deserves a robust, thorough, and scientifically valid study - not this bargain basement, blue-light special," according to a statement from Cynthia A. Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action, a Sandy Hook-based coalition. Birds should be studied for three years before construction of offshore wind farms, according to a 2006 letter from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official. The proposed New Jersey ecological study would last for 18 months. While an 18-month study is "not an end-point," it's "a major milestone for moving forward in making informed and appropriate decisions regarding siting of wind turbines," said Eric Stiles, vice president for conservation and stewardship in the New Jersey Audubon Society.
(TRENTON) – The Blue Ribbon Panel on Development of Wind Turbine Facilities in Coastal Waters today announced their interim report is publicly available and a public meeting has been scheduled to solicit feedback on the report. Acting Governor Richard J. Codey established the Blue Ribbon Panel by executive order last December. The panel is charged with studying the costs and benefits of developing offshore wind turbines. The interim report represents the progress to date toward meeting Codey’s mandate.