Offshore wind power conference held at Rowan University; advocates say there’s no evidence its killing whales
Dead dolphins and whales have been washing up along the Jersey Shore for the past several months.
Some people have blamed offshore wind farms, but there has not been any evidence to support those claims.
Advocates gathered at Rowan University on Wednesday to tout claims that new wind power development is vital for economic and environmental reasons.
“There is no evidence of a connection to offshore wind activity,” says Madeline Urbish, head of government affairs for Orsted.
Urbish says that a lot of misinformation is being put out there about the deaths of the mammals.
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Shawn LaTourette, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection says that what is afflicting the populations of marine mammals is climate change.
The conference at Rowan University on offshore wind was organized by Democratic former state Senate President Steve Sweeney.
“I look at Salem County, one of the poorest counties in the state, they need jobs and that's what this is going to bring,” says Sweeney.
During his time as senate president, the state broke ground on and eventually poured half a billion dollars into a facility on the Delaware Bay to manufacture parts for wind turbines - the New Jersey Wind Port.
Sweeney is a longtime South Jersey senator and spent 12 years as state Senate president before being defeated in a shock election in 2021. He established a public policy center at Rowan University and is widely expected to run for governor in two years.
Urbish is a former policy adviser to Gov. Phil Murphy. She defended Orsted’s efforts to prepare the seabed for the construction of wind turbines off Ocean and Cape May counties as soon as next year.
“They are looking at the sea floor, they are measuring sediment, and so there are vessels that are going out and collecting segment deposits,” she says. “The type of sound and acoustic monitoring that's being used is different than sort of sonar that folks are familiar with that the military uses.”
News 12’s Alex Zdan asked Sweeney if he was creating a government-union-wind industrial complex.
Sweeney responded, “I think President [Joe]Biden created that, to be perfectly honest with you - when he announced he wanted it to be a union industry. Obviously, I agree with it.”
Urbish says the turbines will start to go in the water beginning next year, with the first wind power flowing by the end of 2024 or the beginning of 2025.