Watchdog To Open Probe Into Offshore Wind Projects As Whale Deaths Pile Up

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Nick Pope Contributor
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The Government Accountability Office (GAO) agreed Thursday to launch an investigation into the impacts of offshore wind development as whale deaths off the east coast continue to mount, the Daily Caller News Foundation (DCNF) has confirmed.

The independent congressional watchdog will examine various impacts of offshore wind industrialization, including environmental effects, a GAO spokesman confirmed to the DCNF. At least 335 whales have washed up on beaches of the east coast since 2017, according to The New York Times.

The GAO informed Republican Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey on Thursday that it agreed to his request for an investigation into offshore wind development, according to a Thursday press release from Smith’s office. At least ten dead whales had been seen in New Jersey waters or on its beaches between December 2022 and March 2023 alone, according to the Asbury Park Press. “The exact scope of what we will cover and the expected time frames will be some of the first things determined as the work gets underway,” the GAO spokesman added.

The approval comes more than two months after the House passed a Smith-authored amendment to the Lower Energy Costs Act which required a comprehensive review of offshore wind development. (RELATED: America’s Largest Native American Lobbying Group Calls For Biden Admin To Hit Pause Button On Offshore Wind: REPORT)

“This aggressive, independent investigation into the ocean-altering impacts of the 3,400 offshore wind turbines slated for the Jersey Shore will help address the wide-ranging questions and concerns that the Biden Administration and Governor Murphy continue to dismiss as they plow full steam ahead with this unprecedented offshore wind industrialization of our shore,” Smith said, according to the Thursday press release from Smith’s office. Smith is seeking answers regarding offshore wind development’s effects on the “environment, the fishing industry, military operations, navigational safety and more,” according to the press release.

Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has enacted several substantial increases to the state’s offshore wind energy capacity since 2019 by executive order, according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The Biden administration has also incorporated offshore wind as a key aspect of its sweeping renewable energy transition agenda, pouring billions of dollars of taxpayer funds into the industry, according to a March 2021 White House fact sheet.

The first American offshore wind farms were built off the coast of Rhode Island during the summer of 2016, according to Fortune. As of spring 2022, there were 17 offshore wind developments off the east coast, according to the National Audubon Society.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has declared the recent uptick in unusual right and humpback whale beachings to be “unusual mortality events,” according to its website. NOAA claims that “there is no evidence to support speculation that noise resulting from wind development-related site characterization surveys could potentially cause mortality of whales,” according to its website.

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