- Major offshore wind operator Orsted did not send a witness to a Thursday congressional district hearing about offshore wind projects.
- The hearing was called in part to address concerns that Orsted’s New Jersey offshore wind project sites may be potentially linked to whale deaths and negative effects on the East coast fishing industry.
- “I invited them because we want to hear their answers … I wanted them to provide a transparent accounting for their project. I wanted my congressmen here to be able to ask them questions. Orsted rejected the opportunity to appear and explain their process to us and to all of you at home and all of you who are watching,” Republican New Jersey Congressman Jeff Van Drew said at the hearing.
Orsted, a Danish-based renewable energy company and the largest operator of offshore wind projects in the U.S., declined to attend a Thursday congressional field hearing.and answer concerns about offshore wind’s potential links to rising whale deaths and negative effects on the fishing industry.
Orsted was invited to testify at a congressional district hearing, led by Republican New Jersey Congressman Jeff Van Drew, on the impact of offshore wind industrialization on the Jersey shore amid criticism that the site of their two offshore wind projects has played a role in recent whale deaths and caused problems for fishermen along the eastern seaboard.
The company is developing the adjacent Ocean Wind 1 and Ocean Wind 2 projects just 15 miles off the South Jersey coast. These projects are meant to generate 1,100 megawatts of offshore wind energy, enough to power more than 500,000 homes, and are expected to begin commercial operations by the end of 2024.
“I’ve invited Orsted to testify today. I invited them because we want to hear their answers. And I wanted them to provide a transparent accounting for their project. I wanted my congressmen here to be able to ask them questions. Orsted rejected the opportunity to appear and explain their process to us and to all of you at home and all of you who are watching,” Van Drew said as part of his opening statement for the hearing.
I invited @Orsted to testify at the investigation into Offshore Wind Industrialization today.
Yet, they rejected the opportunity.
Because Orsted and the Biden admin refuse to share the facts with the American people, we will.
— Congressman Jeff Van Drew (@Congressman_JVD) March 16, 2023
The hearing was also attended by Republican New Jersey congressman Chris Smith, Republican Maryland Congressman Andy Harris and Republican Pennsylvania Congressman Scott Perry.
Later in the hearing, Van Drew told the story of a meeting he had with Orsted about concerns raised by fishermen. “I said to them, ‘Will you promise me that you will speak at least to these fishermen, to some of these other people in our community that have issues. Let’s see if we can work something out and at least try to make it better?’ They promised me. And, I’m gonna be blunt, they lied,” Van Drew said.
“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.” Jimmy Lovgren previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The Biden administration has pushed for offshore winds as part of its green energy goals. Just last week, the administration proposed a budget that would more than double funding for offshore wind projects.
Since December 2022, over 20 whales have washed up along east coast shores near survey sites, including Orsted’s project sites, for future offshore wind projects in an unusual mortality rate, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
A January Save LBI report shows that the noise from future wind sites is disorienting the whales’ hearing, which could lead to ship collisions.
Last month, 30 New Jersey mayors signed a letter calling for an immediate moratorium on all offshore wind plans until a thorough investigation is conducted by federal and state authorities, according to Midjersey.news.
Orsted did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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