Van Drew Asks Congress To Halt Offshore Wind At Jersey Shore
Van Drew Asks Congress To Halt Offshore Wind At Jersey Shore

Van Drew Asks Congress To Halt Offshore Wind At Jersey Shore

SEA ISLE CITY, NJ — On Tuesday, eight dolphins stranded themselves in Sea Isle City, and all eight died. Now, Rep. Jeff Van Drew is reiterating calls for a moratorium on offshore wind until investigations into its impact on marine mammals can be completed.

Two of the dolphins that were beached were already dead by the time officials arrived, and the other six were euthanized shortly after. It’s not yet known why they stranded; the dolphins were sent for necropsies, but the results could take months. Read more: 8 Dolphins Dead After ‘Mass Stranding Event’ At Jersey Shore

A popular theory is that sonar surveying from offshore wind companies is causing the deaths of whales and dolphins, though experts say no evidence for this exists.

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Van Drew has repeated this theory, and now has introduced a resolution calling for Congress to halt offshore wind activities.

“It is irresponsible for federal agencies to continually tell the public that there is no connection whatsoever between offshore wind surveying and these tragic marine mammal deaths without providing actual evidence and facts backing up the assertion,” Van Drew said in a statement on the dolphin deaths.

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The resolution, “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that offshore wind projects along the Atlantic coast require more comprehensive investigations examining the impact to the environment, relevant maritime industries, and national defense before being leased or constructed,” was introduced Tuesday. It is co-sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ-4), Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD-1) and Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA-10), all of whom were with Van Drew at his recent offshore wind hearing, along with Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY-4). Read more: Offshore Wind Too Rushed, Unsafe For Jersey Shore, Van Drew Says

The full text of the resolution was not yet available as of Wednesday afternoon.

“We are not even in the construction stage of these industrial wind turbine grids, yet we are already witnessing a highly unusual mortality rate of these intelligent marine animals,” Van Drew said in his statement.

However, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been tracking the deaths of whales since 2016, which predates offshore wind activity. Dolphin strandings have been tracked by the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, a non-profit that has responded to marine life in distress since 1978.

Their charts that date back to 2002 show that 2023 porpoise strandings have not reached an unusual number yet. The most dolphin strandings occurred in 2013, when an outbreak of morbillivirus killed 150 bottlenose dolphins in New Jersey alone.

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“As we have repeatedly stated, we need to continue to base our decisions on data, science, and evidence – not conjecture. NOAA, BOEM, and the independent Marine Mammal Commission have all gone on the record to state there is no evidence of a connection between the strandings and offshore wind activities,” Alison McLeod, policy director at the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, said in a release. McLeod has experience as a professional marine mammal observer, an environmental consultant specializing in whales and dolphins, along with background in marine science and biology. “In addition, when the Marine Mammal Stranding Center has had the opportunity to conduct necropsies, the results have shown evidence of boat strikes and net entanglements.”

But Van Drew said he needs “definitive proof.”

“NOAA and BOEM cannot keep hiding behind the response that the public just needs to ‘trust them.’ These agencies have provided no definitive proof; I know South Jersey and I know our ocean,” he said. “We have never seen events like these in all the years I have lived here, and I am not going to just accept their vague response as fact. “

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