Home Latest Stories Wind Farm Opponents Vow to “Stay in the Fight”

Wind Farm Opponents Vow to “Stay in the Fight”

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Anti-wind farm protesters walk across the Route 52 causeway bridge while holding signs denouncing the projects.

By DONALD WITTKOWSKI and MADDY VITALE

Opponents of offshore wind energy farms warned during a rally Saturday in Ocean City that the legal battle is far from over in their efforts to prevent what they called the “industrialization of our ocean.”

Last year, the Danish energy company Orsted scrapped plans to build two wind farms off the South Jersey coast after concluding that the projects would not be worth the enormous development cost.

However, opponents stressed during the rally that Orsted still holds the leases giving it rights to build the wind farms and could either revive them or sell them to another company that would develop the projects.

“It’s not over. Stay in the fight,” said former Superior Court Judge Michael Donohue, who has headed Cape May County’s legal strategy to block the wind farms.

Donohue, who also serves as chairman of the Cape May County Republican party, scoffed at claims by Orsted that a series of lawsuits filed by the county against the wind farms had nothing to do with the company’s decision to withdraw from the Ocean Wind 1 and Ocean Wind 2 projects.

“It had everything to do with it,” Donohue said.

Donohue and other speakers condemned the wind farms as a threat to Cape May County’s tourism industry, commercial fishing operations, marine life and the Jersey Shore’s fragile environment. They also characterized the massive wind turbines that would be built off the coast as a visual blight.

Robin Shaffer, an Ocean City resident and president of the anti-wind farm group Protect Our Coast NJ, said the projects would amount to the “industrialization of our ocean.”

Protect Our Coast NJ is part of the legal battle against the wind farms, joining with other grassroots groups to file lawsuits seeking to block the government regulatory approvals that would allow the projects to move forward.

“It started small and it’s grown and grown and grown,” Shaffer said of wind farm opposition in New Jersey. “They don’t like any part of this project.”

Robin Shaffer, right, president of Protect Our Coast NJ, hands the microphone to hotel developer Eustace Mita for remarks during the rally.

Carrying signs denouncing offshore wind projects, dozens of opponents rallied in Ocean City’s Mark Soifer Park across from City Hall and then walked across the Route 52 causeway bridge in a show of unity. This was the second year that opponents staged a rally and walk to fight the wind farms.

At one point, Orsted was planning to build a wind farm 15 miles off the coast stretching from Atlantic City to Stone Harbor, passing by Ocean City and other Cape May County beach communities in the process. At that time, the company had proposed installing nearly 100 wind turbines as tall as skyscrapers to generate power for the project.

President Joe Biden and Gov. Phil Murphy’s Democratic administrations have supported wind farms as a form of renewable clean energy that will help combat climate change.

However, speakers at Saturday’s rally presented a far dimmer view of the wind farm industry. They argued that wind farms are not a form of green energy, calling them a blatant “money grab” instead.

The opponents also maintained that government agencies overseeing the wind farms have made extraordinary efforts to rush the projects through the regulatory process while ignoring objections from the public and elected officials.

Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian told the rally that it will be critical for voters to elect anti-wind farm representatives to stop the projects once and for all.

“You want to put the right people in there that want to save Ocean City and Cape May County,” Gillian said.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli says he will end all wind farm projects if elected governor in 2025.

Jack Ciattarelli, a Republican candidate in the 2025 gubernatorial race who narrowly lost to Murphy in the 2021 election, said he would kill off the New Jersey wind farm projects entirely if he becomes governor.

“When I have the privilege of being your governor, there will be no wind mills off our shore,” Ciattarelli said during the rally.

Another speaker, Curtis Bashaw, a Jersey Shore hotel owner running as a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, called the Murphy administration’s support for wind farms “a travesty policy.”

“We need to put this to bed,” Bashaw said of stopping the wind farms for good.

Another Jersey Shore hotel developer, Eustace Mita, launched a wholesale attack against the wind farms. He said they are not a form of green energy and would cause serious harm to the coastal environment and economy.

“We’ve got to keep this fight going, from sea to shining sea,” Mita said of the wind farm opposition.

Ocean City resident Lisa Palomeque and her daughters, Sarah, Rebecca and Hannah, hold signs denouncing the wind farms.

Among the protesters at the rally were Ocean City resident Lisa Palomeque and her daughters, Rebecca, 14, Sarah, 12, and Hannah, 10. They carried signs saying, “Save Our Shore” and “No Offshore Wind.”

Lisa Palomeque said she believes wind farms are bad because they would kill migratory birds and sea life, would fall short of their promise of green energy and would ultimately cause electricity rates to increase.

“Plus, I think they would hurt local businesses. Who would want to look at the massive wind turbines offshore?” she said of the projects creating a visual blight when viewed from land.

Palomeque’s daughter, Sarah, a seventh grader, echoed some of her mother’s concerns about wind farms.

“I don’t like them because it ruins the look of our coast, it hurts animals and birds and would make everyone pay more in taxes,” Sarah said.

Wind farm opponents Bob and Mimi Glaspey of Margate are among the wind farm opponents walking across the bridge.