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Republican Congressman from New Jersey Jeff Van Drew has announced plans to hold a local hearing on offshore wind projects along with plans to introduce legislation seeking to put a stop to offshore wind development—a key component of the Biden Administration’s efforts to expand renewable energy production to combat climate change.
Van Drew serves New Jersey’s second congressional district and was recently named Vice Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
New Jersey is among a handful of states leading the charge on offshore wind development, setting an ambitious goal of generating 11 gigawatts (GW) of electricity from offshore wind energy by 2040 as part of a Master Plan to transition to 100 percent clean energy by 2050. “This means 30 percent of offshore wind energy produced on the East Coast will be from New Jersey,” according to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA).
To date, New Jersey has awarded 3.7 GW of projects representing $4.67 billion in economic benefits to the state, the NJEDA reports.
New Jersey is also developing the New Jersey Wind Port, a purpose-built project that will help position New Jersey as a hub for the U.S. offshore wind industry and support up to 1,500 manufacturing, assembly, and operations jobs. The project broke ground in 2021, putting it on a path of becoming the first purpose-built offshore wind port in the country.
If Congressman Van Drew gets his way, he will put a stop to it. This month, he announced plans to introduce legislation that would place a moratorium on all existing offshore wind projects, as well prohibit all future projects.
Amplifying conservative talking points, Van Drew attempts to link the recent deaths of whales in New Jersey and New York to offshore wind acoustic survey work, despite there being no evidence connecting the two. This week a group of 30 New Jersey mayors also called for a moratorium on offshore wind activity over the whale deaths.
“The unknown impacts of these offshore wind projects raises serious concerns, especially after 18 whales have washed ashore near where surveying is taking place along the East Coast, six of which have been in New Jersey,” said Congressman Van Drew.
“These projects will have substantial impacts on the local tourism industry, the fishing industry, and the surrounding environment. As Vice Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I am holding these hearings in order to discover what exactly these impacts will be and to determine what additional pieces of legislation will be adequate to address the issue,” Van Drew added.
This week, the Department of the Interior announced plans to hold the first-ever offshore wind lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico as part of the Biden Administration’s goal of deploying 30 GW of offshore wind energy production by 2030. According to the American Clean Power Association, achieving this goal will result in the creation of 83,000 new jobs.
Already under the Biden Administration, the DOI has held three offshore wind lease auctions – including the record-breaking New York Bight lease sale and the first-ever sale offshore the Pacific Coast in California—in addition to approving the nation’s first two commercial scale offshore wind projects. BOEM has also initiated environmental review of 10 offshore wind projects, including two in New Jersey, and advanced the process to explore additional Wind Energy Areas in Oregon, Gulf of Maine and Central Atlantic.
Van Drew’s says his first hearing on offshore wind will take place in South Jersey on March 16.
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