Rep. Van Drew Launches Congressional Investigation Into Offshore Wind - The Fisherman

Rep. Van Drew Launches Congressional Investigation Into Offshore Wind

In his opening statement as chairman of the March 16, 2023 Congressional field hearing at the Wildwood Convention Center in South Jersey, U.S. Representative Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey’s second district made clear to the assembled crowd of 400 people that this was not just an ordinary meeting, but “the launch of a congressional investigation into offshore wind, and we call it offshore wind industrialization.”

Together with fellow New Jersey Congressman Christopher Smith of New Jersey’s third congressional district, along with Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland and Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, the purpose of the field district hearing according to Rep. Van Drew was to develop a comprehensive legislative solution for the disruptive effects of offshore industrial wind.

“The federal government is allowing these offshore wind companies to bypass in-depth analyses of offshore wind farms’ long-term impacts in order to push through this administration’s Green New Deal policies,” Rep. Van Drew stated, while explaining “It is becoming more and more clear that BOEM (Bureau of Ocean Energy Management) and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) are in collusion with these companies, and they won’t be able to hide forever.”

Invited witnesses who spoke before the four members of congress and the crowd of 400 included Cindy Zipf (Executive Director, Clean Ocean Action), Bob Stern (PhD, Former Director, Office of Environmental Compliance at U.S. Department of Energy), Mike Donohue (Former NJ Superior Court Judge), Daniel LaVecchia (Owner, LaMonica Fine Foods), Meghan Lapp (Fisheries Liaison, Seafreeze) and David T. Stevenson (Director, Center for Energy & Environmental Policy at Caesar Rodney Institute).

While mainstream media reporting after the hearing shared numerous criticisms from environmental organizations who were not invited to testify – even as they’re frequently quoted by mainstream news outlets in support of industrial wind – a key corporate figure in much of the wind debate, the Danish energy giant Ørsted, was in fact invited to testify but declined the offer.  “I invited Ørsted today,” Rep. Van Drew said during the hearing, adding “Ørsted rejected the opportunity to appear and explain their process.”

Zipf, who spearheaded efforts to ban ocean dumping off the Jersey Coast in the 1980s and has been a staunch 40-year opponent to ocean industrialization efforts at the non-profit Clean Ocean Action, testified that a smaller pilot windfarm project might’ve made more sense than what is being created now.  “While some offshore wind may hold promise, federal and state agencies have moved forward without public transparency, robust and sound science and good governance,” she said, explaining that the National Marine Fisheries Service has as their goal by 2030 to develop over 2.4 million acres of inshore federal waters as wind powerplants which she said could have “catastrophic impacts.”

“Like the canary in the coalmine the recent spate of tragic whale deaths has brought new light and increased scrutiny to the fast-tracking of thousands of wind turbines off our coast,” said Rep. Smith, pointing to Zipf’s testimony and a direct quote from NOAA Fisheries “offshore wind is a new use of our marine waters requiring substantial scientific and regulatory review,” efforts which according to both Rep. Smith and Ms. Zipf have failed to be directed by any state or federal agency.

Rep. Perry of Pennsylvania said the death of more than a dozen dead marine mammals along the New York and New Jersey beaches since late 2022 helped prompt the congressional investigation while helping shed light on the coastal industrialization efforts by foreign-owned companies like Ørsted.  “The other thing I determined while I am sitting here is that this has been going on for some time for the folks in New Jersey but for the rest of us we wouldn’t know about this, quite honestly, if it weren’t for these whales washing up on the beach.”

Rep. Perry said mainstream news media “needs to do their job” in terms of digging deeper into the myriad issues with industrial wind, while noting how other government agencies and elected leaders should be put before congress.  “It seems to me that this company called Ørsted needs to be sitting in front of a congressional hearing, it seems to me this Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management, or mismanagement, needs to be hauled in and needs to spend some time in front of questioners answering some tough questions, and quite honestly, it also seems to me that your governor (Phil Murphy) could stand a little questioning too.”

Rep. Van Drew said the next hearing on this issue would be held in June on Capitol Hill.  “Our concerns are not a democratic or republican problems, all sides have felt some level of unease over these projects if the truth be told,” the congressman said, adding “It is time we examined the process and find ways to guarantee maximum transparency and fairness when it comes to the implementation of offshore wind and energy.”

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