Wind vs. whales — NJ petition keeps pressure on Biden and Murphy
🌊 An online petition is addressed to Gov. Murphy and President Biden
🌊 The group behind the push has been against wind energy for years
🌊 Officials say there's no link between wind energy and whale deaths
Advocates in New Jersey continue to push for at least a temporary halt to offshore wind activity, despite claims from officials and groups that the industry has nothing to do with a recent string of whale deaths along and near the New Jersey coastline.
Protect Our Coast NJ, which was created a few years ago to fight offshore wind efforts, has gathered more than 16,000 signatures so far on an online petition addressed to Gov. Phil Murphy and President Joe Biden.
"These whale deaths, we believe, are trying to tell us something," Ventnor resident Jonah Smith, a member of Protect Our Coast NJ's core committee, told New Jersey 101.5.
The petition uses a recent rash of beached whales in the region as another reason to reconsider wind energy. The group argues that there are other strategies for generating energy in a safer and more environmentally favorable way, "so that New Jersey's greatest natural resource is not put at risk."
New Jersey and New York beaches have seen several whale deaths since December. Advocacy groups in New Jersey have been pushing since the start of this year for a closer look by officials into whether or not wind energy infrastructure is playing a role.
"We don't believe that this is, in any way, going to benefit us," said Suzanne Hornick, a co-founder of Protect Our Coast NJ. "We know that this is going to destroy the Jersey coast."
Is offshore wind causing whales to wash ashore?
New Jersey mayors and members of the state's congressional delegation are part of the push to pause offshore wind activity for an investigation.
The odds of a pause, though, appear slim.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management have said there is no evidence linking offshore wind development with whale deaths.
But groups pushing for an investigation say there's no possible way for experts to guarantee that there's no connection.
"What kind of evidence do you want to see, a wind turbine stuck in a whale's heart?" Smith said. "How do you know that the whales didn't get dizzy and wandered away or got hit by a ship?"
Gov. Murphy has rejected groups' claims to halt wind energy activity. Murphy told NJ.com this month that allegations against the industry are "unfounded."