The Government Accountability Office will begin an investigation into how wind power projects off the New Jersey coast could affect the environment, fishing industry and military and maritime operations, Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said Thursday.
Smith’s congressional district includes Jersey Shore communities where opponents of wind projects question whether survey work on wind project sites could have been a factor in marine mammal strandings on the state’s beaches. They are critical of the Biden administration’s and Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s ambitious plans to make ocean wind power central to regional energy supplies.
Smith said the GAO study “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.”
“It is absolutely critical that New Jersey residents understand all the impacts of these offshore wind projects—which will permanently transform our marine environment and seascape and could put our tourism-drive economy at grave risk—before it’s too late,” said Smith.
Smith said he was called by the GAO Thursday and “will be hosting a meeting with them in his office in the coming weeks with other interested parties.”
Smith requested the GAO undertake the study in a May 15th letter with House Natural Resources Committee Chair Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J., who represents the congressional coastal district just south of Smith’s, and Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., whose district includes Ocean City, Md., and nearby coastal communities.
Smith and his colleagues asked the GAO to examine concerns including:
- Air and maritime safety, including the operation of radar systems;
- Impacts to air traffic, including military training missions off the Atlantic Coast;
- Commercial fishing activities, including fisheries-related surveys and associated management plans, fishing access in the Outer Continental Shelf and economic impacts to the fishing industry;
- Marine environment and ecology, including whales and dolphins, and any endangered or threatened species;
- Resiliency of offshore wind infrastructure to hurricanes and other extreme weather events off the Atlantic Coast.