TRENTON – The following is a statement from members of the New Jersey Wind Works Coalition regarding a hearing today in the New Jersey Assembly Science, Innovation and Technology Committee with subject experts from government and academia to present factual information about the unusual mortality event of marine mammals, which began in 2016 and 2017.


“We are pleased to see the Assembly hold a fact-based hearing. As an environmental organization, we are always concerned when we see marine life in distress, but time and again scientists have stated that the unusual mortality event of marine mammals – which began well before offshore wind energy development – is unrelated,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director, New Jersey LCV. “Elected leaders who really care about protecting marine life should address real evidence-based threats to marine life, including implementing vessel speed restrictions, eliminating abandoned commercial fishing gear, removing plastic garbage out of the water, and of course addressing climate change.”


“Converting our energy sources to clean, renewable sources like wind energy is essential to combating the climate crisis. Those trying to label wind energy as harmful to any species are misrepresenting the facts,” said Jennifer Coffey, Executive Director, ANJEC.  “Whale deaths have been increasing for nearly a decade before any wind research began. Nearly all the whale mortalities show they have been struck by ships. To save the whales, we need to end climate change, reduce plastic pollution, and slow down large shipping vessels coming into port.”


“Offshore wind is a critical component in the transition to a more sustainable clean energy economy,” said Richard Lawton, Executive Director, NJ Sustainable Business Council.  “New Jersey is perfectly positioned to reap the tremendous economic, environmental and national security benefits from offshore wind development.  We can’t let myopic partisan politics stand in the way of capitalizing on the opportunity for the creation of new businesses and thousands of good paying local jobs, cleaner air for all, and enhanced national security by developing this locally produced and consumed source of renewable energy.”


“As a believer in the sanctity of all life, I am deeply saddened by the deaths of whales and dolphins off our coast. However, we must face the fact that climate change and global warming are attributing to the drastic weather changes, ecosystem collapses, and food insecurity for both humans and wildlife alike,” said Rev. Tuff, GreenFaith Alliance NJ. “We must create a new future with renewable energy sources like offshore wind and not get dismayed by those who wish to distract us from the true crises. We are all threatened if we do not act to save our planet.”


“Previous hearings have featured numerous mentions of the need to ‘follow the science’, while simultaneously displaying a lack of understanding of how science actually works. We need to ground public policy with real expertise—not spurious claims,” said Heidi Yeh, Public Policy Director, Pinelands Preservation Alliance.


“Several scientific authoritative bodies including NOAA, the NJDEP, and Marine Mammal Stranding Center, have all repeatedly stated and cited no connection between offshore wind development and marine mammal deaths,” said Anjuli Ramos-Busot, Director, Sierra Club NJ. “We must trust science while ensuring that offshore wind is developed in an environmentally responsible way. Offshore wind is one of the best tools to combat climate change, which is the true culprit for a changing ocean.”


“The facts and science must guide our response to the very concerning deaths of whales and other marine mammals,” said Tom Gilbert, co-executive director of NJ Conservation Foundation. “There is zero evidence linking offshore wind to these deaths. Climate change is wreaking havoc on our oceans and marine life, and responsible offshore wind development is an essential part of the comprehensive strategy needed to address the climate crisis.”


“The New Jersey Assembly should be applauded for holding this hearing and listening to the real experts of the offshore wind industry,” said William C. Sproule, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters. “This new industry will not only help to diversify our energy needs, but also create good-paying union jobs for New Jersey workers. The Carpenters union has made investments to ensure offshore wind projects are built by Americans through our expansion of the Thomas C. Ober Carpenters Training Center in Hammonton, to include the offshore wind construction education, and opening the first union dive school in the country in Sicklerville. New Jersey will be leaders in the offshore wind economy and union workers can’t succeed without elected officials speaking up like they did today.”


NOAA, BOEM, the independent Marine Mammal Commission, and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), have all gone on the record to state there is no evidence of a connection between the recent ocean mammal strandings and offshore wind activities. 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.

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