Rebuttal to Caesar Rodney Institute’s offshore wind letter

November 21, 2023

I would like to provide a rebuttal to the one-sided argument on offshore wind offered last week by David Stevenson of the Caesar Rodney Institute.

While offshore wind requires capital expenditures at the outset, it represents an incredible opportunity and is a worthwhile investment. Offshore wind means electricity prices can be locked in for decades, protecting against volatile fossil fuel prices. The offshore wind development in nearby Maryland is estimated to create 12,000 direct full-time jobs during development and 3,000 direct full-time jobs during the 20- to 30-year operations phase, plus $1.5 billion of investment. There are also major environmental benefits, including reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, improvements in air quality and creation of artificial reefs.

The claim that wildlife impacts have not been studied is unequivocally false. Dozens of studies have been conducted on the potential impacts of offshore wind development and operations on wildlife. In fact, BOEM is required by law to fund the environmental studies needed to predict, assess and manage impacts from offshore energy. BOEM has completed studies on acoustics in the marine environment, birds and bats, fisheries, marine mammals, other protected species and electromagnetic fields. BOEM continues to study and learn from offshore wind projects as they are constructed and put into operation, and all expert federal agencies and credible environmental groups have stated there is no connection between whale deaths and offshore wind.

The author also mentioned concerns regarding tourism and ocean views. However, a University of Delaware survey on offshore wind’s impact on beachgoers’ experience found the impact was minuscule. Another study found that 67% of beachgoers would be unaffected and 13% would be positively affected. Additionally, a 2018 Danish study evaluated the effects of offshore wind on residential and vacation home property values, and found no significant impact. In addition, the author raised concerns about nighttime visual impacts. These concerns are unfounded as the Maryland Offshore Wind project has proposed the use of Aircraft Detection Lighting Systems which only activate lights when an aircraft is in the vicinity. This system would reduce the time that FAA warning lights are on to less than 1% of nighttime hours.

Offshore wind will not impact other ocean users. Fishermen will not be prohibited from fishing between turbines, BOEM does not have the authority to restrict traffic around offshore wind facilities, and the industry is constructing wind farms with significantly more space between turbines than in Europe, specifically to accommodate fishermen. When it comes to safety, wind farms are thoroughly tested and designed to operate in harsh conditions for decades, including nor’easters and hurricanes. Offshore wind vessels account for only 2% of marine traffic from North Carolina to New England, and the Coast Guard is already practicing at-sea helicopter rescues between and around turbines and will evaluate every project through a Navigational Risk Assessment.

Offshore wind is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fight back against climate change, improve air quality and create good paying jobs in our communities. Don’t let disinformation stop the environmental and economic benefits that offshore wind will bring.

Kris Ohleth
Special Initiative on Offshore Wind
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