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Wind Farm Opponents to Host Rally in Ocean City

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A protester calls for more protection for whales during the rally in May of 2023 at Mark Soifer Park in Ocean City.

By MADDY VITALE

Opponents of offshore wind farms are holding a rally Saturday to continue their fight against what they believe could harm the environment, the tourism industry, commercial fishing operations and marine life.

The second annual “Stop Offshore Wind” rally will begin at 9:30 a.m. in Mark Soifer Park, across from City Hall in Ocean City. The rally will proceed with a march across the Route 52 causeway bridge connecting Ocean City and Somers Point.

Danish wind farm developer Orsted announced on Oct. 31 that it was halting its Ocean Wind 1 and Ocean Wind 2 projects. Representatives of the company maintained that it wouldn’t be financially feasible to do the projects.

The Ocean Wind 1 project was proposed 15 miles off the coast between Atlantic City and Stone Harbor, passing by Ocean City, Sea Isle City and other beach towns in the process.

In a rally flyer advertising Saturday’s event, opponents cautioned that they must continue to speak up against wind farms with the words, “The fight is not over,” despite Orsted withdrawing from the local project.

“The Ocean Wind lease site of O.C. beaches could come back in play anytime. We need to stop the offshore wind program in totality to save O.C., save N.J., the East Coast, as well as all U.S. coasts,” the flyer reads.

There are other offshore wind farm projects that continue to be in the works, however, such as Atlantic Shores, which would run from Atlantic City to Monmouth County.

Congressman Jeff Van Drew, at left, listens to wind farm critic Robin Shaffer speak during the rally in 2023.

Protect Our Coast New Jersey has been at the forefront of the fight against wind farm projects.

Robin Shaffer, an Ocean City resident and president of Protect Our Coast New Jersey, said organizers of Saturday’s rally are “expecting a great turnout.”

“We expect this event will highlight our efforts to protect the coastal and marine habitats and preserve the unique heritage of the Jersey shore,” Shaffer said in a text.

Shaffer noted that in addition to himself, other confirmed speakers are New Jersey Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli, Jersey Shore luxury resort developer Eustace Mita, U.S. Republican Senate candidate Curtis Bashaw and Cape May County Republican Chairman Michael Donohue.

South Jersey Congressman Jeff Van Drew, the most prominent of elected officials who has been outspoken against wind farms, is invited to speak, along with Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian, Shaffer said.

“The event will be as much about inspiration as it is information, and a call to action for anyone with interests related to the threats from industrial offshore wind development all along the East Coast,” he said.

Just a little over a month before Orsted pulled out of New Jersey, wind farm opponents held a rally in Ocean City that led to the arrest of six protesters.

The rally was an effort to show opposition to workers drilling holes in the street in an early step in Orsted’s then-proposed Ocean Wind 1 project.

The protesters intended to voice opposition to preliminary work along the 35th Street corridor for an underground transmission cable that would link offshore wind turbines with the land-based electric grid at the former B.L. England power plant in Upper Township.

The charges — all disorderly persons offenses — were dropped in court against the protesters in March.

Kathleen Harper, of Dennis Township, carries her anti-wind farm sign in 2023 while crossing the Route 52 causeway bridge connecting Ocean City and Somers Point.