By MADDY VITALE
For nearly four years, opponents of a proposed offshore wind farm that they say could negatively affect marine life, tourism, the commercial fishing industry and wildlife have held protests and signed petitions calling for a halt to the project by Danish energy company, Orsted.
Orsted wants to develop Ocean Wind 1, which would entail constructing up to 98 towering wind turbines between Atlantic City and Somers Point about 15 miles off the coast, passing by Ocean City and other beach communities in the process. It is one of a two Orsted projects in the works. The other is Atlantic Shores, which would be from Atlantic City to Barnegat Bay.
But so far, Orsted continues to receive permitting and approvals, despite opposition from residents in coastal communities to lawmakers, with Congressman Jeff Van Drew the most prominent and outspoken critic of them.
Protect Our Coast NJ (POCNJ), an independent, non-partisan grassroots group, is holding a fundraiser on Saturday, June 10, at the American Legion Post 524, located at 4562 West Avenue in Ocean City, to help pay for its anti-wind farm campaign.
The fundraiser runs from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. with light food, appetizers, and drinks. There will be live music from Big Daddy Duo, basket auctions and prizes.
Protect Our Coast NJ founder Suzanne Hornick, of Ocean City, said the time is now to stop offshore wind farm projects to protect the environment.
“Protect Our Coast NJ is fighting to protect our coastal community and our ocean from the extreme industrialization currently planned for our shores,” Hornick said. “We know that the proposed projects which could see thousands of gigantic turbines and substations off our coast will destroy our community, quality of life, economy, ecosystem, food supply, national security, and more.”
Business owners, residents and others who are opposed to offshore wind development are urged to attend and join together in the fight against the projects, Hornick said.
“We know that this technology is experimental, exponentially more expensive, and will do absolutely nothing to address climate change. It will in fact contribute substantially to the pollution. Please be part of the solution,” she said.
She noted that donations would be for the POCNJ Legal Defense fund.
“If there isn’t a huge public outcry, we don’t stand a chance,” Hornick said. “Our elected officials, especially our governor, have taken away our rights to protect and defend our own community and land knowing that the Jersey Shore will never be the same again.”
Opposition to the wind farm has been mounting over recent months following more than 30 whale deaths along the East Coast that critics, including Protect Our Coast NJ members, have blamed on sonar mapping of the seabed that is needed for construction of the project.
However, government agencies have said that the evidence shows that most of the whales were struck and killed by shipping traffic.
And despite the outcry from residents and lawmakers in coastal communities against the wind farm projects, there continues to be approvals by the federal government for the projects.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced in May that it has completed its environmental analysis of the proposed Ocean Wind 1 offshore wind project along the South Jersey coast. It is a key preliminary step needed for construction of the project.
A transmission line to connect the wind turbines with the land-based electric grid would run through parts of Ocean City and Marmora to a substation at the former B.L. England power plant in Upper Township. Ocean City and Cape May County are fighting in court to block the transmission line.
According to POCNJ, the construction of the offshore wind facilities will have an irreversible, devastating impact on coastal communities whose economies and livelihoods depend on a healthy ocean.
Contributions to the POCNJ legal fund will be used to oppose the construction of offshore wind turbines that will negatively impact the oceans, marine mammals, coastal communities, fishing industry, tourism, and electrical rates, Hornick said.