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Wind turbines off of Block Island

Wind turbines at Orsted's Block Island wind farm off Rhode Island, one of two commercial offshore wind farms in the United States. Credit: PennyJack Creative/Shutterstock

Republican Lawmakers Critical of East Coast Offshore Wind Plans

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March 17, 2023

By Josh Saul (Bloomberg) —

Four Republican lawmakers criticized offshore wind farms planned for waters off the East Coast at a New Jersey event, marking the latest sign of mounting pushback against the fledgling energy source.

The lawmakers said the federal approval process for the farms had been hurried and sloppy and raised multiple complaints about the industry, ranging from foreign ownership of wind developers to a rash of whale deaths to fears of higher power bills. The Biden administration wants to build 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030. 

“Our government is acting more in the interest of the rich and powerful than in the interest of Americans,” New Jersey Representative Jeff Van Drew, who organized the Thursday event, said in opening remarks. The event, attended by hundreds, was labeled as a Congressional-style hearing meant to get testimony from industry experts and others. 

New Jersey Congressman Wants a Moratorium on Offshore Wind as State Seeks Leading Role

Republicans Chris Smith of New Jersey, Andy Harris of Maryland and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania also raised concerns.

A clean energy industry group criticized anti-wind activists for focusing on whales and said there’s no evidence linking recent deaths to offshore wind. “Opponents of offshore wind development are weaponizing a convenient narrative to block critical infrastructure that’s contributing to America’s energy independence, creating economic growth, and strengthening the grid,” the American Clean Power Association said in a statement Thursday. 

The US doesn’t yet have any large offshore wind farms but multiple big projects are planned with some starting turbine installation as soon as later this year. Offshore wind farms have operated in Europe for decades and the energy source is seen as a crucial piece of the push to decrease the use of planet-warming fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas. 

© 2023 Bloomberg L.P.

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