GOP holds hearing in Wildwood on recent whale deaths

Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew held a long-awaited hearing on the offshore wind industry in Wildwood on Thursday.
At the hearing, there was sworn testimony from the fishing industry, activists and scientists, but no new evidence that offshore wind is connected to the deaths of a dozen whales that washed up in New York and New Jersey so far this year.
Stunned by the numbers of dead whales and dolphins washing up on the Jersey Shore, two of New Jersey’s Republican congressmen took aim at the offshore wind industry.
“This is a cover-up in real time that we're experiencing. There's no transparency,” said Rep. Chris Smith. “Congress must do its job.”
With no firm proof that offshore wind development is causing the deaths of whales and dolphins, Rep. Van Drew focused on the approval process for the 1,148-megawatt offshore Ocean Wind 1 project that’s currently under development by Danish corporation Orsted with the full backing of Gov. Phil Murphy's administration.
Van Drew said he invited Orsted to testify at the hearing but that the company declined to attend. The Murphy administration has consistently pushed back against any connection between offshore wind and marine mammal deaths. They’ve allocated $8.5 million for scientific studies examining the safe and ecologically responsible development of offshore wind.
Orsted head of government affairs Madeline Urbish said in a statement, “We have been transparent about our plans, and remain diligent in educating the public, local communities, commercial fishing representatives and stakeholders throughout the project’s development.”
Urbish is a former policy advisor for the Murphy administration.
The state Department of Environmental Protection said in a statement, “As of March 2023, no offshore wind-related construction activities have taken place in waters off the New Jersey coast, and DEP is aware of no credible evidence that offshore wind-related survey activities could cause whale mortality.”
“The truth is that our government is acting more in the interest of the rich and powerful than the interest of our people, of our Americans,” said Van Drew.