From STOP THESE THINGS
Wind power outfits once ran a line about wind farms providing new and exciting tourist opportunities. Inquisitive folk would pack the kids into the Prius and head into the country, so they could get up close and personal to a few of these whirling wonders, drawn in by their purportedly majestic awe and left feeling warm and gooey inside, or so the story went.
Now the offshore wind industry has created an altogether different kind of draw card, attracting a steady stream of onlookers every day; sometimes hundreds on weekends.
All along the North Atlantic coast people are being drawn to the dozens of dead and dying whales that have been washing up over the last few years; with the numbers doing so increasing at a staggering rate.
Though it’s not as if the offshore wind industry cares – long before they began spearing these things into the ocean, they sought and were granted government-backed licenses to (quite lawfully) kill an unlimited number of whales, porpoises and dolphins – aka the ‘Incidental Harassment Authorization’.
From the present (and wholly expected) attitude of the wind industry – and the authorities that should be reining them in – it looks as if America’s Atlantic coast is in for a real tourist boom, over the years to come.
Although, we’re not sure how the wind industry’s PR hacks are going to dress up dead whale watching as an eco-tourism adventure. Here are 4 stories for them to get started with.
‘Strategy’ to protect right whales from offshore wind development is recipe for extinction
The New Bedford Light
24 January 2023
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published a draft of their strategy to protect the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale (NARW) from the hazards of offshore wind development this past fall.
The report is a heartbreaking portrayal of the plight of the 336 remaining right whales. Approximately 230 animals have died over the past decade. Autopsies and photo documentation conclude that fishing gear entanglement and vessel strikes have caused the deaths. “Stressors” of industrialized ocean noise and dwindling food sources have contributed to reduced health and compromised body condition in 42% of the remaining population.
“Human-caused mortality is so high,” BOEM scientists state, “that no adult NARW has been confirmed to have died from natural causes in several decades; for a species that might live a century, most animals have a low probability of surviving past 40.”
Less than 70 reproductively able females remain, with their lifetime calving potential having been reduced “from more than a dozen to perhaps just 2–3 calves.” NOAA Fisheries survey of right whale numbers and health concludes “the species faces a high risk of extinction,” with “the loss of even one individual a year” reducing any chance of future recovery.
Projected harm from offshore wind (OSW) development resulting in right whale mortality, serious injury, behavioral disturbances and, ultimately, starvation is listed: 1) exposure to vessel and construction noise and pressure (from extensive sonar mapping of the ocean floor, pile driving and the detonation of unexploded WW2 ordinances); 2) entanglement in turbine cables and moorings; 3) increased risk of vessel strikes inherent in OSW construction, operational and maintenance activities; and 4) changes to habitat affecting zooplankton food sources due to the alteration of ocean circulation, water mixing from operative turbines, and prey being sucked into the cooling water intakes of high-voltage cable systems.
The report includes maps showing extensive overlap of offshore wind areas with right whale migration routes and feeding, breeding, calving, and resting habitat “critical to their survival” from Maine to the Carolinas. BOEM surprises with its stark admission, “The overlap between OSW development (planned, leased, and permitted) and NARW habitat extends to corridors outside the immediate development sites, where vessel traffic between ports and offshore sites [and noise and ecosystem-level changes] would further overlap with the distribution of NARWs.” The plan is to develop 22 million acres (8%) of the continental shelf along the eastern seaboard despite “NARWs migrating along the U.S. Atlantic Coast travel through or nearby every proposed OSW development.”
This catastrophic news for the right whale leads directly into BOEM’s so-called “Strategy…to protect and promote the recovery of North Atlantic right whales while responsibly developing offshore wind energy.”
Apparently, this having-and-eating-the-cake master plan will be accomplished through various untested, unproven, and unfunded “mitigation” efforts carried out by wind companies with NOAA Fisheries oversight. Yet, as the report acknowledges: “NOAA and BOEM recognize that the majority of the funding required to support the actions described in this Strategy will require support from multiple sources, including, government, states, industry and other stakeholders. This funding has not been secured” [italics added].
BOEM’s right whale/offshore wind “strategy” is cover-your-behind political chicanery in service of the offshore wind industry’s furious rush toward cashing in on enormous amounts of public monies. Most distressingly, it is also the industry’s ticket to the annihilation of the last of the North Atlantic right whales.
New Bedford Light
Pleas to pause wind farm plans over whale deaths have fallen on deaf ears, NJ mayor says: ‘Reeks of hypocrisy’
3 February 2023
The mayor of Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., Paul Kanitra, has a theory on what may be behind the mysterious string of whale deaths that has left officials speechless.
Since offshore wind energy development began in December, the region has witnessed 18 whale deaths – a severe uptick that is not a “coincidence,” the New Jersey mayor argues.
“In a normal year, the Jersey Shore coast and in the tri-state area, we have one, two, maybe three whale deaths. Since they started doing this sonar testing, which started in December, we’ve had eight whale deaths off our coast, and that seems a lot more than a coincidence to us,” Kanitra said on “America’s Newsroom,” Friday.
Kanitra said that the offshore wind farms are impacting whales’ echolocation, inhibiting their ability to safely navigate the waters.
“The federal administration and federal scientists are saying that it’s blunt trauma, a lot of these, and that they’re obviously related to boat strikes is how they’re trying to position this. But whales, as we all know, use echo sonar location to navigate. And there are some real concerns about – is this messing with that ability, and that’s what’s actually causing the boat strikes? It’s too much to be a coincidence,” Kunitra explained to co-host Bill Hemmer.
Federal officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) said they were investigating the causes of death but have not yet attributed any whale mortalities to offshore wind activities.
Kanitra added that he is fighting the federal administration’s “hypocrisy” in the whale deaths ordeal – and that is what he “hate[s] the most” about being a “small town mayor.”
“This administration, our federal administration, our governor, and the administration here in New Jersey, if there were this many whale deaths occurring for any other reason, they’d be digging into this. But the reason is because they’re trying to shove these projects through as quickly as possible. And why is that? It’s money,” the East Coast mayor argued.
“This isn’t a mom-and-pop operation. This is a multinational corporation. This is Shell Energy. This is Orsted. And they stand to make billions of dollars from this. So I think that’s the core component here. When you look at the state of New Jersey’s already invested $500 million of taxpayer dollars into infrastructure readying for the project, they’ve committed to buying kilowatt-hours from the project at three times the cost that we’re already paying for energy in New Jersey. It just reeks of hypocrisy.”
Unfortunately, Kanitra and 12 other New Jersey mayors’ plea to put a pause on the project has “fallen on deaf ears.”
“Twelve mayors from various different backgrounds, up and down the Jersey Shore coast, speaks volumes about how important this is. But it’s not just that – we care a lot about marine life. We’re all very environmentally friendly in Point Pleasant Beach and up and down the coast. It just doesn’t make any sense,” he concluded.
Third dead whale found miles from offshore wind farm in less than a week
13 February 2023
The third dead whale was discovered in less than a week off the southeastern coast of Virginia, miles from Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW), one of two operational wind farms in federal waters.
Over the weekend, a critically endangered North Atlantic right whale was discovered washed ashore near Chic’s Beach which is located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirmed to Fox News Digital on Monday. According to local news outlets, there was no immediate cause of death and the whale didn’t appear to have any entanglement marks.
The discovery of the beached right whale came just two days after a humpback whale was found dead along the shoreline in Cape Charles, Virginia, and five days after a dead humpback whale was found off the coast of First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach.
“There have been 3 large whale strandings in VA over the past week, two humpbacks and more recently a North Atlantic right whale,” NOAA spokesperson Allison Ferreira told Fox News Digital in an email. “We are investigating all of these incidents in collaboration with our stranding network partners.”
Ferreira said the first whale was a 36-foot male with no obvious signs of recent entanglement or interactions with ships and the second whale, a 23-foot female, was significantly decomposed making it impossible to assess its injuries. The third whale, a 43-foot male Atlantic right whale, is being prepared for examination.
NOAA has recently reiterated that an unusual mortality event along the East Coast has been declared for both the humpback whale and Atlantic right whale species.
The dead whales are the latest to be discovered along the East Coast over the last several weeks. At least 10 other whales have been found on beaches in three other states with most coming in New Jersey.
In light of the uptick in whale deaths, local officials, lawmakers and conservationists have called for an immediate moratorium on all offshore wind development, arguing the construction and seismic testing associated with offshore wind farms may be harming marine life.
“Over the course of the past several months, there have been repeated instances of dead whales washing up on New Jersey’s shoreline, and the proximity of nearby offshore wind development has raised concerns that ongoing activity on these projects may be contributing to whale fatalities,” Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., who represents a district that stretches along New Jersey’s eastern coastline, wrote to federal officials in late January.
“The federal government has a responsibility to ensure the Jersey Shore’s environmental viability, and any projects that may affect not only whales, but the broader marine ecosystem and the economy it sustains, must be comprehensively reviewed before allowed to proceed,” Smith continued.
Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J., 12 mayors representing coastal New Jersey communities and a coalition of environmental groups led by Clean Ocean Action have joined in on calls for a moratorium.
The CVOW wind farm, meanwhile, is located 27 miles off the coast of Cape Henry, the point in Virginia Beach where two of the whales were discovered over the past week and near where the third was found.
The 12-megawatt wind farm currently consists of two wind turbines, the first installed in federal waters, and opened as a pilot project in 2020. CVOW is expected to be fully constructed in 2026 and consist of 176 turbines across 112,800 acres in the Atlantic Ocean.
CVOW’s operator Dominion Energy didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Greenpeace Betrays Founders to Peddle Junk Science
14 February 2023
Since 2016, when acoustic sonar surveys required for construction of 1,500 wind turbines began on the U.S. Atlantic coast, 174 Humpback whales have washed ashore dead. This represents a 400 percent increase in mortalities from previous years. And then there are the highly endangered North Atlantic right whales, of which less than 400 individuals exist today. They recovered somewhat after being hunted to near extinction in the 1930’s, but now they are thought to be declining.
Federal government agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are authorizing the sonar surveys. Greenpeace, the organization I helped found in 1971, has sided with the wind turbines over the whales, stating there is no “proof” that sonar is involved in this tragedy. Here is a quote from a Greenpeace spokesperson:
“At this time, due to the lack of evidence suggesting harm from offshore wind development, Greenpeace’s position remains that the best way to protect whales is to create ocean sanctuaries, eliminate single-use plastics at the source, and stop our dependency on oil and gas.”
Perhaps it would be a good idea to put the “ocean sanctuaries” where the whales live.
It is a fact that mortalities among whales in this region are often caused by entanglement in fishnets and by vessel strikes. But a 400 percent increase in whale deaths, coincident with the sonar program, should cause environmentalists like Greenpeace to swing into action and spend some of their hundreds of millions on a thorough research program. Instead, they are doing nothing. Well, they do cruise around in their $30 million yacht which they call a “sailing vessel” even though there is an 1,850-horsepower diesel engine in the hold which provides the main propulsion.
It is understandable that federal agencies like NOAA would downplay the concern for the whales. The Biden administration is dead set on building all these contraptions even though they will be much more expensive and far less reliable than nuclear, hydroelectric, or fossil fuel generators.
Whales are acoustic species that use sonar to see the world around them. They have eyes for close-up recognition, but their sonar is how they navigate and speak to each other.
It is not only the sonar surveys that may pose a real problem for the whales. Depending on their size, each one of the 1,500 turbines will require a concrete base excavated into the ocean sediment up to 150 feet deep and 30-40 feet wide. This will clearly cause a huge amount of mud to be dispersed into the water column. Both these species of whales are of the baleen type. They are filter-feeders using their baleen to strain their food into their stomachs. The mud from these many excavations may interfere with their feeding and may also affect the species they depend on for food.
I sailed variously as navigator, first-mate and leader on all four Greenpeace campaigns to save the whales from 1975-1978. We went into the deep-sea Pacific for months at a time during the whaling season, sometimes 1,000 miles from land. We put ourselves in front of harpoons to protect the fleeing whales. When we arrived in San Francisco in early July 1975 with film footage of a harpoon going over the heads of our crewmembers in a small inflatable boat, and then into a Sperm Whale’s back, the images went around the world in a matter of hours. Greenpeace had arrived as a major player in the global environmental movement.
At the time we intervened in the Pacific whale slaughter, the Russian and Japanese whaling fleets together were killing about 30,000 whales annually. Many species – including blue whales, sei whales, fin whales and right whales – had been slaughtered to commercial extinction. Among the most commercially valuable whales, only the sperm whales, the largest toothed animals ever to exist on Earth, survived in large numbers. But they were certain to be all but wiped out if the hunts continued. The much smaller minke whales, which were never considered optimum by the big fleets, are still present in reasonable numbers.
In 1979, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) banned the hunting of all species – except minke whales – by factory ships and declared the Indian Ocean a whale sanctuary. In 1982, the IWC adopted an indefinite global moratorium on all commercial whaling. Except for the right whales of the North Atlantic and North Pacific, all whale species are either fully recovered or well along in recovery.
I left Greenpeace when they began to refer to humans as “the enemies of the Earth,” a bit too much like “original sin” for me. To top it off, my fellow directors, none of whom had any formal science education, decided we should campaign to “ban chlorine worldwide.” They nicknamed chlorine “The Devil’s Element,” conveniently dismissing that chlorine is the most important of all the 90-plus naturally occurring elements for public health and medicine. I guess this doesn’t count for those who don’t like humankind.
Today, Greenpeace executives work in cushy offices and sail around like a bunch of college kids on a summer cruise. By siding with machines over living, endangered whales they have betrayed their founders and everyone who really cares about the natural world. Now more than ever, I am glad I left them behind in 1986, after 15 years of service. When it had its priorities right, Greenpeace was made up of voluntary crusaders for peace and nature. It has become a big business focused on fundraising, a backroom racket peddling junk science.