Smith Introduces Bill To Require Investigation Into Environmental Approval Process For Offshore Wind Projects

Nine dead whales in two months and still no answers from the Biden Administration

February 17, 2023

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Rep. Chris Smith (R-Manchester) today introduced legislation requiring an immediate, comprehensive investigation into the environmental approval process for offshore wind projects as Governor Murphy and the Biden Administration continue to ignore growing calls to pause offshore wind development over concerns about the recent A dead whale washes ashore in Manasquan on Monday, February 13th—the ninth one along the New Jersey-New York coastline since early December.

 “Nine dead whales have washed up on our beaches since early December, and we still have no meaningful answers from Governor Murphy or the Biden Administration on the broader impact of these projects on the marine environment as they rush to build the largest offshore wind farm in the nation,” said Smith, who has yet to receive a response from the Biden Administration after he urged two Biden Administration Secretaries late last month to pause the offshore wind activity.

“As part of a full-court press for answers, my legislation will investigate the level of transparency from federal agencies that greenlighted this aggressive offshore wind development and determine how much scrutiny was implemented in reviewing the environmental and maritime safety of this project, especially given its unprecedented size and scale,” Smith said.

            Smith’s bill would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO)—commonly known as the congressional watchdog—to investigate the sufficiency of the environmental review process for offshore wind projects, including the impacts on whales, finfish, marine mammals, benthic resources, commercial and recreational fishing, air quality and greenhouse gas emissions, vessel traffic, tourism, and the sustainability of shoreline beaches and inlets.

The study mandated by Smith’s legislation would also examine whether federal agencies adequately consulted major stakeholders including county and local officials, commercial and recreational fishermen, local environmental groups, and Jersey Shore residents, as well as determine the estimated cost of these projects and who pays for them.

Smith, a longtime advocate for marine wildlife and the broader environmental and economic viability of the Jersey Shore, reiterated that “the lack of conclusive evidence disproving the link between offshore wind development and whale deaths is sufficient to require a pause until assurances can be made to the public that the environmental and maritime safety of these projects has been properly reviewed.”

Photos and video by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response