The New York Bight auction will be the first offshore wind lease sale in over three years. Once built, the project will provide thousands of new jobs and enough clean, renewable energy to power millions of homes for decades. So, of course, a clueless gaggle of New Jersey NIMBYs has a problem with it.
US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced today that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will auction 480,000 acres across six lease areas – the most areas ever offered in a single auction – off the shores of New York and New Jersey, in the area known as the New York Bight, in a historic offshore wind lease sale.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management issued its final sale notice for the project, paving the way for an auction next month. Once it’s built out, the the New York Bight is expected to produce up to seven gigawatts of renewable, offshore wind energy – enough to power several million homes.
The project advances the Biden Administration’s goal of generating 30 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030. The plan also helps New York and New Jersey achieve their own governments’ stated offshore wind goals – coming, as it does, just days after New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced plans to spend $500 million on the ports, manufacturing, and supply chain infrastructure needed to advance the state’s offshore wind industry.
“With this investment, New York will lead the nation on offshore wind production, creating green jobs for New Yorkers, and powering our clean energy future,” Governor Hochul said, projecting that her plan will create 6,800 direct high-paying jobs and generate a positive economic impact of $12.1 billion statewide. “I am proud to make New York a leader in offshore wind and renewable energy.”
For its part, the White House expressed similar optimism. “The Biden-Harris Administration has made tackling the climate crisis a centerpiece of our agenda, and offshore wind opportunities like the New York Bight present a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fight climate change and create good-paying, union jobs in the United States,” said Secretary Haaland. “We are at an inflection point for domestic offshore wind energy development. We must seize this moment – and we must do it together.”
All told, the offshore wind project in the New York Bight promises union jobs, clean energy, and billions in positive economic impact for all the area’s residents. So, of course, the people with beach houses have a problem with it.
It’s all about the optics.
A group of New Jersey residents have sued the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to seek the reversal of its decision to pursue offshore wind energy in the New York Bight. And, while the group’s case accuses the BOEM of failing to prepare an in-depth report on potential environmental impacts of selecting the New York Bight for its wind turbine project, the vibe it gives off is far more superficial and self-serving.
Bob Stern, president of Save Long Beach Island, told Reuters that they are concerned by the aesthetic impacts of the turbines, and potential lost tourism due to their interference with Long Beach Island’s current unobstructed seascape.
The group’s website, too, seems really focused on the fact that they’ll be able to see the proposed wind turbines from their beachfront homes and resorts (below).
To their credit, the Save Long Beach Island group also expressed concern that the project could further endanger the North Atlantic right whale, one of the world’s most endangered large whale species.
In its official release, the Department of the Interior contradicts claims that the required research to safely develop the offshore wind project wasn’t completed. It reads, “BOEM initially asked for information and nominations of commercial interest for 1,735,154 acres in the Bight. Based on the bureau’s review of scientific data, and extensive input from the commercial fishing industry, Tribes, partnering agencies, key stakeholders, and the public, BOEM reduced the acreage by 72% to avoid conflicts with ocean users and minimize environmental impacts. BOEM will continue to engage with stakeholders as the process unfolds.”
The anti-windmill case is Save Long Beach Island v. U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, No. 1:22-cv-00055, and we’ll be following along in case anything significant comes of it.
NIMBYism is always frustrating, but it’s especially frustrating when real climate progress is being pushed aside for something as petty and shallow as, “We don’t want to see it.” Furthermore, what about the people living near the Hudson South call area cited on the Save Long Beach Island group’s homepage? It begs the question: Why is it OK for them to see offshore wind turbines, but not OK for the people on Long Beach Island?
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