Spike In Whale Deaths And Mounting Public Pressure Push Gov’t Watchdog To Launch Investigation Into Impacts Of Offshore Wind Farms

The Government Accountability Office announced the launch of a study into the environmental impact of offshore wind farms in response to the increasing public pressure resulting from the increased number of dead whales washed up on the beaches of the east coast.

The New York Times reported on February 1st that 335 whales have washed ashore along the east coast of the United States since 2017.

New Jersey residents protested the offshore wind farms that month. They included local legislators and environmentalists. They demanded officials “defund” green energy and put a federal ban on the projects.

The GAO is a government watchdog that told Republican Chris Smith from New Jersey, on Thursday, that it had agreed to his request for an investigation into the effects of offshore wind on “the fishing industry, military operation, navigational safety, and more.”

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Bruce Westerman, (R – AR), Representative Jeff Van Drew, (R – NJ), Representative Andy Harris (R – MD), and Smith wrote a letter requesting an investigation to the GAO.

Smith, who was the sponsor of the amendment to the Lower Energy Costs Act, passed it in March. The amendment required that an investigation be conducted into the possible link between offshore wind industrialization and the increase in whale deaths.

In a press release issued on Thursday, Smith stated that “This independent and aggressive investigation into the ocean altering impacts of 3,400 offshore turbines planned for the Jersey Shore” will address the many questions and concerns the Biden administration and Governor Murphy continue ignoring as they push forward with the unprecedented industrialization of offshore wind along our shore.

He added: “It’s absolutely crucial that New Jersey residents fully understand the impact of these offshore projects, which will permanently transform our ocean environment and seascape. They could also put our tourism-driven economy at serious risk.”

Smith demanded that the GAO finish its investigation before the offshore wind projects are resumed.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) continues to deny any possible connection between offshore wind developments and whale deaths.

NOAA said that “there is currently no evidence supporting speculations that wind development-related site characterisation surveys may cause whale mortality, nor are there any specific links between the recent large whale deaths and current surveys.” “We will continue collecting data to help determine the cause of death in these mortality events.” We will continue to investigate how human activities such as sound, vessels, and other marine environments impact whales, dolphins, and other marine mammal species.

According to the New York Post, this year at least 14 dead whales have already been discovered along the New York/New Jersey coast.

NOAA officials stated that the most recent deaths of humpbacks, which were found on May 31st, likely resulted from blunt force trauma.