To the Editor:
The Herald’s publication of the climate change series is a commendable public service. Unless the public understands the causes of global warming, they will not understand the solution, which is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Replacing fossil fuels with renewables, along with conservation and efficiency improvements, can make that possible.
New Jersey has made progress in adding solar power to its energy portfolio and is poised to develop another plentiful natural resource - offshore wind.
New Jersey has arrived at this point due to years of work and research by numerous parties - public officials, academia, labor, commercial and recreational stakeholders, utilities and wind farm developers. Much of this activity was covered by the media and shared in various forums. Unfortunately, an opposition campaign of misinformation has emerged at this late date. It is important to address this now, so that the public does not fear this new energy source.
Wind turbines are not placed just anywhere in the ocean. Sites are chosen with consideration of many factors, including, but not limited to, wind resources, geology, impacts on wildlife and existing uses of the marine environment.
Projects are the subjects of feasibility studies, economic reviews, environmental impact statements and permitting by federal and state regulators.
Ørsted, developer of the Ocean Wind project, has consulted with wildlife conservation experts regarding birds and marine creatures. As a result of information from bird experts and local residents, Ocean Wind’s closest point to land was moved from eight miles to 15 miles from shore. This change will minimize potential impacts to migratory birds, as well as the visual impacts of the turbines.
Ørsted created a marine affairs team and a fisheries liaison, who is tasked with engaging with the commercial and recreational fishing communities and addressing their concerns.
Ørsted has funded research on offshore wind with Rutgers, Rowan, Stockton and Montclair State universities. The findings of a special monitoring project will be used to further protect the endangered North Atlantic right whale during all phases of Ocean Wind, including operation.
The results of global warming are already apparent in New Jersey, as they are across the globe. Further delay in reducing carbon emissions will incur more economic costs, agricultural insecurity, ecosystem damage and geopolitical unrest.
New Jersey has a resource that can help reverse the trend. We must use it.
ED. NOTE: The author is president of New Jersey Environmental Lobby.