Library filed under Offshore Wind from New York
Governor asks feds for six-month extension to assess impact of offshore wind farms on state’s main fishing grounds wind. ...The request, if granted, could slow recent steps taken by both states to expedite building offshore wind farms in waters near New York and New Jersey.
“We know the moment [the federal government] gets a taste of wind farms in the Atlantic, we are going to be playing whack-a-mole with energy and oil companies creeping up on our fishing grounds,” Bonnie Brady said at a presentation by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, or NYSERDA, on Monday night at the Southampton Inn.
Philip E. Karmel, a partner at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner who has analyzed the case, said that if the scallopers win, the impact will depend on what remediation the judge orders. “The case could potentially be quite important if the court holds that BOEM’s leasing procedures do not comply with the National Environmental Policy Act,” he said. “That would require a new set of leasing procedures and it could result in delays in the rollout of offshore wind turbines.”
Off New York's Long Island, an organization representing East Coast scallopers has sued the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to try to halt a proposal for a nearly 200-turbine wind farm. Commercial fishermen in Maryland's Ocean City and North Carolina's Outer Banks have also sounded the alarm about losing access to fishing grounds.
At the harbor management committee meeting, Dan Farnham Sr., a Montauk fisherman, warned that those mats pose a clear hazard and predicted that for trawl fishermen, transiting through the wind farm at night or in inclement weather would be too dangerous. “When you get hung up . . . on the bottom, especially in rough weather, it can be life-threatening,” he said. “You lose your maneuverability to control the vessel in heavy weather. If you were in the wind farm . . . and you get hung up, and your trawl gear is a third of a mile behind the boat, you have absolutely no control about where that vessel is going to drift to while you’re trying to get unhung.”
Scola is concerned about state and federal regulations. But his big concern is the prospect of hundreds, and perhaps even thousands, of giant wind turbines spread out in the New York Bight, an area along the Atlantic Coast that extends from southern New Jersey to Montauk Point. It’s one of the most productive fishing grounds on the Eastern Seaboard.
The official explained that LIPA had ample green-power sources to meet its short-term state mandates without the second Deepwater Wind project’s proposed 210 megawatts of energy. He noted LIPA will have other opportunities to purchase wind energy through a recently signed memorandum of understanding with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority specifically centered on offshore wind.
“You don’t destroy the environment in order to save the environment. Pile driving the ocean floor destroys fish with swim bladders” and traumatizes other fish, she said. Jet-plowing the ocean floor kills larvae and creates sedimentation that would cover and kill more. “Then you juice it with low-level electromagnetic frequency, which apparently heats up the ocean floor pretty well,” both repelling fish and attracting sharks, she said. “It’s one thing to talk about climate change in a vacuum, but turn around,” she said, gesturing toward the audience. “Their lives depend on what’s out there.”
The plan to build an offshore wind farm to provide energy for the South Fork has received approval by the state comptroller, with a listed price tag to ratepayers of more than $1.62 billion.
Other than the cost, the effect on marine life and the Island's summer tourism are the main concerns for Massapequa civic leader Phil Healey when it comes to a project like this one. "Just the fact of how much our economy is based on recreational fishing, recreational tourism, people who enjoy our beaches. It will have an effect -- it cannot not have an effect,” he says.
Without specifics, the company said it expects the project to be a source of jobs in the region. ...One local industry is already weighing in against project. “The idea that you can just show up and stick a flag in the ocean floor and say it’s mine without regard to the fishing community it will displace is unconscionable and un-American,” said Bonnie Brady, executive director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association.
The project will be built 30 miles (48km) off the eastern tip of New York’s Long Island, and deliver power to the grid-constrained South Fork peninsula, which contains most of the area known as the Hamptons, a wealthy seaside resort that includes some of the most expensive residential property in the US.
The cost of the energy produced by the wind farm will be about the same as the cost of electricity produced by other renewable energy sources, around USD 0.16 per kilowatt-hour, the authority’s representatives were cited by The New York Times as saying.
“I understand he’s trying to do a wind farm to subsidize and assist vacationers on the South Fork,” said Carole Leonard, president of the Leisure Village Assocation. “What about the full-time people who live in the community? We have residents who can’t put food on their table. It’s just gotten insane. Let’s figure out what we’re going to do with [PSEG Long Island] and the rates, and then go on to other things.”
The project isn’t without detractors. Some worry about storms damaging the turbines. Others wonder whether the foundation can actually break ice. The project is getting international scrutiny, too. Environmental groups in Spain and the United Kingdom recently condemned it.
“We are very afraid we are going to lock up an area of the bottom that is definitely favorable for scallop settlement,” said James Gutowski, a scallop fisherman from Barnegat Light, N.J., and chairman of the Fisheries Survival Fund.
The petition, filed Thursday in federal court in Washington, D.C., said the plan to build as many as 194 turbines in a 127-square-mile section would hurt fishermen who now cruise the area looking for scallops and squid and others who harvest fish species including summer flounder, mackerel, black sea bass and monkfish.
The filing alleges that the leasing process for BOEM did not adequately consider the impact the proposed New York Wind Energy Area would have on the region’s fishermen. According to the FSF, the site is in the waters of the New York Bight on vital, documented scallop and squid fishing grounds, which serve as essential fish habitat and grounds for other commercially important species, including black sea bass and summer flounder.
Commercial fishing companies, trade groups and seaport communities in four states have asked a court to stop the federal government from auctioning off the rights to develop a huge offshore windfarm in the Atlantic Ocean between New York and New Jersey.
Two East End town officials who have expressed support for a wind farm 30 miles from the coast of Montauk to power the South Fork say a separate potential wind farm 12 miles off the coast of the South Fork would meet resistance if the state pursues it.