Home Latest Stories Wind Farm Protesters to “Link Hands” on Beaches

Wind Farm Protesters to “Link Hands” on Beaches

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During an anti-wind farm news conference held in January, environmentalists criticize the project for allegedly causing deaths to marine mammals and wildlife.

By DONALD WITTKOWSKI and MADDY VITALE

Opponents of a proposed wind energy farm off the South Jersey coast will link hands on the beaches Saturday in a protest symbolizing their unified fight against a project they believe will be an environmental and economic disaster.

They will be on the beach Saturday starting at 11 a.m. from 14th Street in Ocean City heading north toward Atlantic City to underscore the message that opponents do not want 98 towering wind turbines in the waters 15 miles off the coast.

Dubbed “Hands Across The Beaches,” the protest is being organized by Protect Our Coast NJ, a grassroots organization that has been one of the most vocal critics of the wind farm proposed by the Danish energy company Orsted.

Orsted plans to begin construction in the fall on the Ocean Wind 1 project and have it completed in 2024 and start generating power in 2025. The wind farm would be 15 miles off Atlantic City and pass by Ocean City and other shore communities down to Stone Harbor.

“There is proof that the wind farm would be a disaster on a lot of fronts, economically and for the environment,” Roseanne Serowatka, the rally organizer from Protect Our Coast NJ, said Wednesday. “They are pushing this project without a lot of trials.”

Residents, tourists, grassroots groups and political leaders will all be uniting on the beaches in a show of opposition.

“There are resources to protect our ocean and we want everyone to know, be aware and join forces and hands to stop this,” Serowatka said. “We will have people at every beach opening to give out information.”

She said the public is listening and learning about all of the negative impacts of wind farms.

“They are asking questions. I would say 85 percent of the people I talk to want to know more. There is growth through education,” Serowatka said.

A rendering depicts the massive size of the offshore wind turbines for the proposed Ocean Wind 1 project. (Rendering courtesy of Cape May County)

Whether a visitor, resident, young or old, there is a commonality when it comes to the campaign to stop offshore wind energy from coming to the Jersey Shore, she said.

“It is a community of people who come together and are trying to enjoy their lives,” Serowatka noted. “There are so many aspects of this project that are detrimental to the people living here, visiting the shore and to the ocean and marine life.”

Gov. Phil Murphy, a strong supporter of offshore wind technology, wants New Jersey to become a leader in green energy. So far, New Jersey has approved three offshore wind farms and is looking to add more. Murphy’s goal is to have offshore wind farms producing 11,000 megawatts of power in New Jersey by 2040.

Ocean Wind 1 would be the first offshore wind farm in the state and is part of Murphy’s broader strategy to make New Jersey a national leader in renewable energy.

Critics consider the project an existential threat to the shore’s marine life, migratory birds, tourism industry and commercial fishing operations. They also fear that the towering wind turbines will create a visual blight when viewed from land.

“What I’ve been advocating for is a pause on the building of offshore wind turbines on our shores until we have definitive evidence that it won’t harm our precious marine life,” state Assemblyman Antwan McClellan said. “Countless studies have highlighted the potential risks posed by the construction of wind turbines in our oceans.”

The project faces intense opposition and legal challenges from Ocean City and Cape May County as it moves through the state and federal regulatory process.

“I believe it is very important that we all continue to work together to use every means available for us to block the windmills,” said Cape May County Board of Commissioners Director Leonard Desiderio, who also serves as mayor of Sea Isle City.

Offshore wind opponents march across the Ninth Street Bridge in Ocean City during a protest in May.

In a setback to opponents, the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Energy Management gave its approval last week, clearing the way for Orsted to begin construction this fall with a completion date in 2024, according to Orsted’s timetable.

“We don’t have enough information on the benefits or non-benefits — most of all, the effects on the ocean,” Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian said. “It’s moving way too fast and there will be an expense to New Jersey taxpayers, including higher electricity bills.”

Opponents also object to millions of dollars being provided by the state and a billion dollars from the federal government in tax subsidies to a foreign company to help underwrite the cost of developing the wind farm.

“The simple fact is offshore wind farms don’t make economic sense to build without huge government subsidies at the expense of taxpayers or higher bills for utility customers,” state Sen. Michael Testa said.

Opponents of the proposed offshore wind farm, from community leaders to local, county and state lawmakers, had this to say:

State Sen. Michael Testa, R-1st:

The simple fact is offshore wind farms don’t make economic sense to build without huge government subsidies at the expense of taxpayers or higher bills for utility customers. We held a virtual hearing a few months ago where we heard significant concerns about the many negative impacts the new wind farms will have on Jersey Shore tourism, commercial and recreational fishing, and marine life, including whales and dolphins. It doesn’t seem like the Murphy or Biden administrations have cared to consider those negative impacts in their rush to advance their extreme green energy plans.

State Assemblyman Antwan McClellan, R-1st:

What I’ve been advocating for is a pause on the building of offshore wind turbines on our shores until we have definitive evidence that it won’t harm our precious marine life. Countless studies have highlighted the potential risks posed by the construction of wind turbines in our oceans. It is imperative that we carefully assess the potential negative impact on marine life and coastal communities. I am opposed to the rushed decision-making regarding this project, which stands to jeopardize thousands of jobs and cause irreparable harm to our economy. We cannot afford to cover our beautiful coastline with towering wind turbines without ensuring their safety and obtaining undeniable proof that it won’t harm marine life and shore economies.

Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian:

We don’t have enough information on the benefits or non-benefits — most of all, the effects on the ocean. It’s moving way too fast and there will be an expense to New Jersey taxpayers, including higher electricity bills.

Cape May County Board of Commissioners Director and Sea Isle City Mayor Leonard Desiderio:

I believe it’s very important that we all continue to work together to use every means available to us to work to block the windmills. The anti-wind protest is another way of letting all know what is going to transpire in the push to build nearly 100 of these 1,000-foot turbines off our beautiful coast.

We still have many questions that have been ignored by the foreign-owned Orsted company. The state of New Jersey, with the help of the Legislature, recently passed legislation in which under an agreement that the federal government had with Orsted that would give one billion dollars back to New Jersey ratepayers. The legislation that was passed allowed Orsted to keep the billion dollars and not pass it on.

This legislation was passed in five days. Myself and other elected officials have been asking for help with juvenile issues for nearly three years and we can’t even get it into a committee in the Legislature. In five days, a bill was introduced, passed and signed into law with some arm-twisting. We will continue the fight for the people and for our county. We asked all to join and say no to the wind turbines!

Ocean City Councilman Terry Crowley Jr.:

The process used by the state of New Jersey in fast-tracking these windmills is beyond comprehension. The environmental impact will be immediate and there will be unforeseen consequences and devastation.

These windmills are not green. They require petroleum-based lubrication and rare earth mineral-based batteries that are mined under questionable ethical and environmental methods. We owe it to future generations of people and wildlife to halt this process.

Orsted is not an American company. The state is giving subsidies that were intended for the people of New Jersey to this foreign company – a company that will be nowhere to be found when these structures are decommissioned in the future. We the people of New Jersey will pay for that.

I did not vote for the current president or governor. I hope that people will remember this sham of a process in the next election cycle. Now is the time for people to get involved and contact your elected officials at every level of government to voice your opposition.

Ocean City resident Allison Wisnefski:

It’s unbelievable that this has been brought to our beautiful shore towns, and under the umbrella of green energy, when really greed fuels it. The people of New Jersey need to educate themselves and fight this to the end. This is not OK. Governor Murphy, shame on you.

Founder of Protect Our Coast NJ Suzanne Hornick:

There is nothing about offshore wind that will be good for New Jersey. The eradication of endangered species we rely on to reduce our carbon footprint and provide a healthy ocean for us all and the destruction of our coastal waters are irreversible. We know that is what is planned.

Governor Murphy’s fast-tracking of this plan while bypassing the rules and regulations and ignoring the will of the people of New Jersey is un-American! Thousands of miles of radiation-emitting cables in the ocean, bay and across the land will devastate our quality of life, seafood supply, ecosystem and tourism industry, yet according to the environmental impact statement, will do nothing to address climate change. It will increase our use of fossil fuels and the extremely deadly lubricant, SF6.

Ocean City Board of Education member Robin Shaffer:

I’m against the project because it will forever change the ecosystem. It will forever change the OCNJ shore. It will hurt the environment in that the construction and manufacturing of the turbines is a dirty business — especially in the third world. It will raise our electricity rates by 25 percent or more. And it is estimated this project will result in a $1.1 billion annual loss in tourism revenue down the shore.

Ocean City resident and community leader Jennifer Bowman:

I am against this project because it’s been pushed forward at lightning speed. I wish there was a compromise. Our wetlands have always been so protected, and I have watched them flourish over the years because of all the protection. I am deeply concerned about the effects this windmill industrial park will have on our wetlands and our ocean — especially being built so close to our coast.

Having witnessed firsthand the whales and dolphins washing up this spring, I am heartbroken at the possibility that the testing happening during the wind project preconstruction might be the cause of all the deaths. Not to mention the nighttime blinking red light disturbances that 300 windmills might cause to our migrating birds.

Former Ocean City Councilman and longtime critic of the wind farm project Michael DeVlieger:

Basically, there’s not a lot more I can add that hasn’t already been said, but holding hands on Saturday will not in itself stop this project. Protect Our Coast NJ has a comprehensive plan to take this fight into the courts. To do so, they need public support. They have over 500,000 signatures against the wind farm. If everybody donates a dollar, the legal fund will be successful. If people can afford more, it would be sincerely appreciated.

Protect Our Coast NJ is seeking financial support in its legal campaign against the proposed Ocean Wind 1 project in New Jersey. To make a donation, go to Take Action Against NJ Offshore Wind Development — Protect Our Coast NJ

Date: 7/15/23 

Time: 11:00

Where:  14th Street Beach in Ocean City 

  • Participants will fan-out along the water’s edge
  • Feel free to bring home-made signs and have your voice heard.  There will be media present at the 14th Street location and a drone in the air.