By David Wojick
Okay it is a trick headline because they can only hammer 100% of the severely endangered North Atlantic Right Whale population. The point is that NOAA is proposing, for offshore wind development, to authorize a horrific 706 cases of physical harassment of Right Whales, whose dwindling population is down to just 340 magnificent critters.
The average whale will get hammered roughly twice. The Right Whales migrate along the coast twice a year. Migration requires repeatedly running a gauntlet of dangerous offshore wind projects. Most likely some whales will be hit many times.
The harassment numbers for each proposed project are listed below. There are eight full scale construction projects and six blasting sonar site survey efforts. Many are off of New Jersey.
Harassment in this case means subjecting a whale to unsafe levels of very loud noise.
For construction this especially means driving the incredibly large monopiles. A single giant pile, up to 300 feet long, holds a turbine tower and 3 blade assembly that can be over 1,000 feet tall. Driving noise can be heard under water 50 miles away.
The construction numbers vary dramatically, making me skeptical of the low numbers. For example two projects exceed 200 harassments each, while Dominion Energy’s huge Virginia project predicts just 26 hits. Given the entire Right Whale population migrates off Virginia, I find this very low number highly unlikely.
Here are the project by project harassment numbers. Officially each harassment is called a “take”.
Eight OSW construction Take Authorization applications pending
Park City Wind, LLC Construction of the New England Wind Offshore Wind Farm Project off of Massachusetts
Right Whale take: 228
SouthCoast Wind, LLC Construction of the SouthCoast Wind Offshore Wind Project
(Mayflower Wind renamed, off of Rhode Island and New York)
Right Whale take: 216
Revolution Wind, LLC Construction of the Revolution Wind Energy Facility off of Rhode Island
Right Whale take: 62
Dominion Energy Virginia Construction of the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Commercial Project off of Virginia
Right Whale take: 26
Sunrise Wind, LLC Construction and Operation of the Sunrise Wind Offshore Wind Farm, off New York
Right Whale take: 35
Ocean Wind, LCC Construction of the Ocean Wind 1 Wind Energy Facility off New Jersey
Right Whale take: 14
Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind, LLC Construction of the Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind Energy Projects (off New Jersey)
Right Whale take: 33
Empire Offshore Wind, LLC Construction of the Empire Wind Project (EW1 and EW2) off of New York
Right Whale take: 29
Total construction Right Whale take: 643
Assuming a population of 340, the total take is 189% of the population for proposed construction take authorizations.
Six OSW site characterization Take Authorization applications pending
Community Offshore Wind, LLC Marine Site Characterization Surveys off New Jersey and New York
Right Whale take: 24
Attentive Energy, LLC Marine Site Characterization Surveys off New Jersey and New York
Right Whale take: 12
Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind, LLC’s Site Characterization Surveys off New Jersey and New York
Right Whale take: 3
SouthCoast Wind Energy, LLC’s Marine Site Characterization Surveys off Massachusetts and Rhode Island
Right Whale take: 6
TerraSond Limited Marine Site Characterization Surveys in the Carolina Long Bay Call Area
Right Whale take: 3
TerraSond Limited Marine Site Characterization Surveys in the New York Bight and Central Atlantic Call Area
Right Whale take: 15
Total site characterization take: 63
Total proposed Right Whale take: 706
Assuming a population of 340 this proposed Take Authorization is a horrific 208% of the dwindling Right Whale population.
See https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/incidental-take-authorizations-other-energy-activities-renewable for detailed information on each proposed activity that requires a Take Authorization.
NOAA systematically ignores the threat that all this harassment poses to the whales, even though they are well aware of it. In fact I pointed it out to them 6 months ago. See my https://www.cfact.org/2022/09/27/how-to-kill-whales-with-offshore-wind/
Read the take numbers and weep for the whales.
- David WojickDavid Wojick, Ph.D. is an independent analyst working at the intersection of science, technology and policy.
- For origins see http://www.stemed.info/engineer_tackles_confusion.html For over 100 prior articles for CFACT see http://www.cfact.org/author/david-wojick-ph-d/ Available for confidential research and consulting.
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