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Governor Murphy has a whale of a problem with his offshore energy plan

NJ Star-Ledger|Paul Mulshine|January 15, 2023
New JerseyOffshore WindWhales

In his State of the State address, Gov. Phil Murphy boasted of his plan to have hundreds of wind turbines built offshore, some more than 900 feet tall. The governor also mentioned his commitment to “environmental justice.” Well, I’ve got some environmental justice for you, Guv: Build those windmills near your house, not mine. If they’re good enough for those of us who live by the Atlantic Ocean, they should be good enough for those who live on the Navesink River.


Waves crash over a humpback whale that that washed ashore in Brigantine Friday; environmentalists want Gov. Phil Murphy to suspend testing for offshore wind turbines until the cause of the whales' death is found.

That great American novel “Moby-Dick” begins with the narrator inviting the reader to observe the shoreline of Manhattan:

“Circumambulate the city of a dreamy Sabbath afternoon … What do you see? Posted like silent sentinels all around the town, stand thousands upon thousands of mortal men fixed in ocean reveries.”

Things have changed a lot since 1851, when Herman Melville wrote those words. But the Atlantic Ocean hasn’t. People still wander to its shores to gaze at an ocean devoid of man-made objects.

But not for long, not if …

... more [truncated due to possible copyright]

Waves crash over a humpback whale that that washed ashore in Brigantine Friday; environmentalists want Gov. Phil Murphy to suspend testing for offshore wind turbines until the cause of the whales' death is found.

That great American novel “Moby-Dick” begins with the narrator inviting the reader to observe the shoreline of Manhattan:

“Circumambulate the city of a dreamy Sabbath afternoon … What do you see? Posted like silent sentinels all around the town, stand thousands upon thousands of mortal men fixed in ocean reveries.”

Things have changed a lot since 1851, when Herman Melville wrote those words. But the Atlantic Ocean hasn’t. People still wander to its shores to gaze at an ocean devoid of man-made objects.

But not for long, not if Phil Murphy gets his way.

In his State of the State address, Gov. Phil Murphy boasted of his plan to have hundreds of wind turbines built offshore, some more than 900 feet tall.

The governor also mentioned his commitment to “environmental justice.”

Well, I’ve got some environmental justice for you, Guv: Build those windmills near your house, not mine. If they’re good enough for those of us who live by the Atlantic Ocean, they should be good enough for those who live on the Navesink River.

You can see what the ocean view will look like on artists’ renditions posted on the Rutgers website.

One such rendition shows what the beach in Brigantine would look like if those wind turbines are built according to plan.

In that view, the entire horizon is filled with wind turbines. More than 25 tower over the waves in the foreground of the photograph.

This isn’t what we were promised when ocean wind was first promoted in New Jersey.

Back in 2014, I attended a press conference in Atlantic City at which various politicians promoted a project to build a mere five moderately-sized wind turbines off the coast.

When I asked about their visibility from land, one of the project’s backers offered what he called “the rule of thumb” – if I held my arm toward the ocean, the turbines would appear to be about the size of the top half of my thumb.

That didn’t sound too bad. But afterward when I drove up to go for a run in Brigantine, I saw something infinitely more pleasing to the eye.

It was a whale spouting and breaching.

I don’t know if it was one of the six whales that have washed up dead lately. But the death of those whales was the subject of a press conference held by six environmental groups last week. (A seventh whale washed up dead later in the week, but Governor Murphy said he won’t call for a halt in his plan to industrialize the ocean.)

The groups called for a halt in offshore wind plans until the possible connection with the recent whale strandings can be investigated. The enviros want the state to determine, among other things, whether the whales’ navigational skills were impaired by the sounds of testing for the wind turbines.

The organizers of one of the groups, Clean Ocean Action, put out a release saying, “Never in human history has such a fast-paced industrialization of an ocean ecosystem taken place.”

Bob Stern is asking “What’s the rush?”

Stern, who is president of a citizens’ group called Save Long Beach Island, told me he has a better idea: Place the turbines 35 miles offshore where they won’t be seen.

But placing the turbines farther offshore would raise the cost. This is the sort of thing that would usually be hashed out in legislative committees, but Murphy has been employing executive orders instead.

That insulates his plan from objectors who cite the number of birds killed by the turbine blades. A group called Avian Extinction Rebellion opposes any expansion of wind power. They recommend nukes instead. As a conservative Republican, I agree. Oyster Creek cranked out carbon-free power for half a century without killing any birds.

Ocean Gate windmill dropped a blade on a sidewalk where kids walk to school
Another conservative Republican, state Sen. Vince Polistina of Atlantic County, issued a press release last week calling for a cessation of work on offshore wind until its possible effects on whales can be ascertained.

“The work related to offshore wind projects is the primary difference in our waters, and it’s hard to believe that the death of six whales on our beaches is just a coincidence,” Polistina said.

Murphy need only look to his native Massachusetts to see how this sort of thing works out.

When a similar plan called Cape Wind was proposed for the waters off Cape Cod, it was none other than noted environmental lawyer Robert Kennedy Jr. who led the opposition, which ultimately prevailed.

“Environmental groups have been enticed by Cape Wind, but they should be wary of lending support to energy companies that are trying to privatize the commons -- in this case 24 square miles of a heavily used waterway,” he wrote in the New York Times in 2009.

An excellent point. We are used to looking at the ocean as public, but the Murphy administration wants to award large chunks of it to multinational corporations such as Royal Dutch Shell.

That might be a good move by the standards of modern-day Wall Street. But it was at the foot of 19th century Wall Street that the common people gathered “as if striving to get a still better seaward peep,” Melville wrote.

They still want that peep - without wind turbines.

There must be some Iron Law of Lobbying which states that groups that start off with the intention of fighting the government on bad policies often end up pushing those policies. We’re seeing that with groups like the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society.

Both pretend to be environmentalists, but any true environmentalist would oppose offshore wind altogether, or at the very least join with Save LBI in insisting it be far offshore. Instead those environmental groups are supporting the Murphy administration in the effort to cut corners by erecting the wind turbines close to land. A study by researchers from the University of North Carolina states that even medium-sized wind turbines can be seen 26 miles from shore.

Why? Just go to the Sierra Club website and look at this page begging for cash.

Then there’s the Audubon Society. It’s supposed to be a single-purpose advocacy group, with that purpose being the protection of birds. But as I wrote in this column, the Society has sold out to the Democratic establishment.

What are a few dead raptors when there’s money to be made and influence to be peddled?

These corporate environmentalists are peddling the line that these whale strandings have no connection to the preparations for offshore wind. Whether or not that turns out to be true, those of us who love the ocean don’t want to see it industrialized, period.

I suspect I’ve spent more time in the ocean than all these people put together. The less evidence of human activity, the better.


Source:https://www.nj.com/opinion/20…

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