Whale deaths prompt Democrats to join Republican calls for probe of offshore wind turbines
- Mar 31, 2023 11:53 am GMT
The measure, included as an amendment to a major
Nearly two dozen dead whales have washed ashore since December, many on the beaches of
The work involves geotechnical survey boats mapping the ocean floor using sonar equipment that blasts underwater air guns.
Some environmental groups fear the loud sounds could be interfering with whale communications and hearing, disturbing migration and feeding patterns and causing the massive mammals to become injured or stranded on shore.
“The offshore wind industrialization approval process has left unaddressed and unanswered numerous serious questions concerning the potentially harmful environmental impact on marine life and the ecosystems that currently allow all sea creatures great and small to thrive,” Rep.
The measure passed Thursday would require the GAO to examine the environmental review process used by federal agencies to greenlight the offshore turbines. The GAO would also be tasked with studying the impact of the offshore projects on marine life, including whales and other sea mammals, how the projects affect the sustainability of shoreline beaches and whether the turbines impede the military’s use and navigation of marine vessels.
Mr. Smith’s measure would also require the GAO to determine the safety of the turbines in hurricanes and other severe weather.
The amendment was included in a sweeping energy bill that passed 225-204. The measure would speed up the environmental review process for energy projects to quicken their approval, among other provisions aimed at boosting fossil fuel production and reducing energy prices.
Mr. Smith’s amendment, however, signaled significant Democratic backing for a closer examination of offshore wind turbine development that is now underway.
Mr. Biden’s renewable energy plan calls for deploying 30,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2030. The president’s ambitious offshore wind plan would provide a year’s worth of power for more than 10 million homes and “avoid 78 million metric tons of CO2 emissions,” Biden officials said.
There are no operational offshore wind projects yet along the
A large portion of wind energy projects are slated for an area of shallow water between
Officials with the
Mr. Smiths called the Biden administration’s review process for the offshore wind projects “shoddy,” and said a far more thorough study is needed to determine the impact of the massive turbines, which could be as tall as 850 feet.
“With so much at stake, and out of an abundance of caution and concern, a serious, aggressive, and independent analysis on the ocean-altering impact of these projects is absolutely critical,”
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