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NJ to Study Environmental Impacts of Offshore Wind Projects | New Jersey News

By WAYNE PARRY, Associated Press

ATLANTIC CITY (N.J.) New Jersey officials will commission studies to assess the environmental impacts of offshore wind energy projects on animals as large and small as whales and clams.

This research addresses a major concern that has been raised by both opponents and supporters of the new industry. The studies provide baseline data that can be used to assess the ecological effects of wind farms’ construction and operation.

The Board of Public Utilities and the state Department of Environmental Protection announced Wednesday that they will fund $3.4 million in projects to study conditions at commercially valuable, clam beds that overlap with wind turbine farms. They also plan to study topography of the ocean floor, including sunlight conditions, temperature, carbon dioxide levels, and temperature.

The state will also join Connecticut, Maryland and Massachusetts in the Regional Wildlife Science Entity. This entity coordinates regional monitoring and research on wildlife that supports the advancement of offshore wind power development that is environmentally responsible and economically efficient.

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These three initiatives will cost more than $3.4million. The Offshore Wind Research & Monitoring Initiative is funded by the DEP and BPU. It was established using money donated from two of the most prominent offshore wind developers, Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind II and Orsteds Ocean Wind II. According to the state estimates, the companies have committed $26 million for ecological research and monitoring offshore wind operations.

“As the stewards of our vibrant coast and ocean resources, my colleagues at the Department of Environmental Protection are dedicated to the continual pursuit of research and monitoring initiatives to help us ensure the responsible development of offshore winds facilities and their long-term operation,” said Shawn LaTourette.

Joseph Fiordaliso, President of BPU, stated that the research will include gathering critical baseline data about whales and their movements along New Jersey’s coastline.

The program plans to solicit proposals to fund a passive acoustic monitoring study to better understand movements and behavior of whale species in the waters around New Jersey’s coast.

This project is part of a larger effort that involves state, regional and federal entities to protect marine mammals from offshore wind farms being developed along the eastern coast.

Atlantic Shores lease area is located approximately 10 miles from the southern New Jersey coastline and has the potential for powering nearly 1 million homes. Orsteds Ocean Wind lease is located approximately 15 miles off of the southern New Jersey coastline and has the potential for powering almost half a millennium homes.

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Opponents of offshore Wind often complain that there is not enough information about the environmental effects of the turbines or the buried underground electrical transmission cables.

New Jersey is rapidly emerging as a hub for the fast-growing offshore energy industry. Six companies offered $4.37 billion to purchase the right to build wind power projects on the ocean floor between New Jersey and New York. This was the largest auction by the U.S. government in its history.

This is in addition three offshore wind project already approved by New Jersey regulators.

The state indicated that it will soon issue an invitation for proposals from entities interested to carry out the research.

Follow Wayne Parry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/WayneParryAC

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material cannot be published, broadcast or rewritten.

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