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NOAA Finds New Jersey Offshore Wind Project Unlikely to Seriously Harm Marine Life

by Anna

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued a biological opinion stating that the Atlantic Shores offshore wind project off the southern coast of New Jersey is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of endangered whales, sea turtles, or fish. While acknowledging that the project may “adversely affect” marine mammals, NOAA emphasized that its construction, operation, and eventual dismantling are not anticipated to seriously harm or kill marine species.

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The Atlantic Shores project, with preliminary approval since 2021, is the lone remaining offshore wind project in New Jersey following the cancellation of the Ocean Wind I and II projects. NOAA’s decision aligns with a similar ruling issued in April for the now-canceled projects in the same area.

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Jennifer Daniels, the development director of Atlantic Shores, welcomed NOAA’s decision, calling it “the next step forward” for the project. She highlighted the company’s commitment to responsible ocean development and the completion of numerous environmental assessments.

NOAA’s biological opinion emphasized that protective measures proposed for the project should limit any effects on North Atlantic right whales to temporary behavioral disturbance. The agency, along with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Marine Mammal Commission, stated that there is no evidence linking offshore wind activities to whale deaths.

Despite NOAA’s findings, some opponents of offshore wind, including the group Save LBI, continue to express concerns about the potential impact on marine ecology, fishing, tourism, and shore communities. They call for further scrutiny and assert that the risks and damages associated with offshore wind industrialization outweigh the benefits.

This development comes amid broader debates about offshore wind projects, with Republican elected officials advocating for a moratorium and an ongoing Government Accountability Office investigation into the industry. The Atlantic Shores project, a joint partnership between Shell New Energies US LLC and EDF-RE Offshore Development, LLC, aims to generate 1,510 megawatts of electricity, enough to power over 700,000 homes.

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