Biden’s budget allocates $60 million to expand the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) offshore wind permitting activities, an initiative fishermen say will damage their businesses and environmental groups warn could be killing whales.
The funding is intended to support the administration’s goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2030, which it states will generate enough energy to power 10 million homes for a year. Experts warn that wind projects disrupt the whale’s habitats and generate disorienting noise, factors that could be contributing to a recent increase in whale deaths. So far, their requests for the Biden administration to investigate have been fruitless.
The 2024 budget allocation for offshore wind is $39 million higher than what was enacted in 2023, according to the budget.
“This would allow NOAA to use the best available science to help meet the goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore energy by 2030 while protecting biodiversity and promoting sustainable ocean co-use,” the budget states. (RELATED: New Jersey Environmental Groups Demand Answers From Biden Administration On Whale Deaths)
Fishermen are also sounding the alarm on offshore wind efforts.
“Offshore wind will put American fishermen out of business,” Jerry Leeman, a commercial fishing captain, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Developers and public officials are laying plans for wind farms that cover 10 million square acres off the coast of Maine alone. Those are highly productive waters that will be permanently closed to our boats.”
“Research from Europe suggests offshore wind could have negative, population-scale effects for haddock,” Leeman continued. “That’s the species I pursue. Fishermen can weather a lot, but we can’t handle this.”
“As a third-generation fisherman, I can tell you that if this project continues, we’ll be out of business within the next three years,” James Lovgren, board of trustee member of Clean Ocean Action and retired commercial fisherman, previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
A NOAA scientist has also raised concerns about the impact of offshore wind on the endangered North Atlantic right whales species, of which less than 336 remain.
“Additional noise, vessel traffic and habitat modifications due to offshore wind development will likely cause added stress that could result in additional population consequences to a species that is already experiencing rapid decline,” one NOAA scientist wrote in a memo obtained by a Massachusetts news outlet The New Bedford Light in December.
“President Biden’s proposed budget builds on the historic investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act to bolster our nation’s economy – generating jobs and supporting local and Tribal communities, building resilience to our changing climate, and managing important natural resources,” said Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement. “At the Department, we will continue to implement our mission through a process that values close collaboration between federal, state, Tribal and local partners, with an eye toward historically marginalized and underrepresented communities that must never again feel left behind.”
Antonino Cambria contributed to this report.
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