Senator Anthony M. Bucco, Senator Vince Polistina, and Senator Michael Testa said they are glad the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has opened an investigation into the impact of offshore wind development on whale deaths along the Jersey Shore.
"We've had dozens of whales and dolphins that have died in our waters and on our beaches since the start of offshore wind farm survey work last year," said Bucco (R-25). "While the Murphy administration has been content to turn a blind eye as the number of dead marine mammals continues to rise, we're glad the GAO will give this ongoing tragedy the review it deserves. New Jerseysans deserve to know the full impact of offshore wind development on our environment and our economy."
The GAO announced this afternoon that it was opening an investigation into the impact of offshore wind development on marine mammals, commercial and recreational fishing, tourism, marine vessel traffic, and the military.
The nonpartisan, watchdog agency, which reports to the United States Congress, opened the investigation at the request of Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Congressman Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ).
"We've had a unified block of Republican legislators and congressmen from the Jersey Shore calling for an investigation into the surge of whale deaths that's been occurring since last year when the wind farms surveys began," said Polistina (R-2). "As we've said previously, we believe the work that's currently being conducted in our waters by the wind developers should be suspended until the GAO can tell us if there's a link or not to the deaths of dozens of marine mammals."
Senate Republicans hosted an independent hearing on May 3 where the surge of whale and dolphin deaths along the Jersey Shore and potential links to wind farms were discussed.
During the hearing, experts repeatedly expressed concerns that the wind farm projects were rushed, that data suggested a link to whale and dolphin deaths, and that shore towns and fisheries would face serious economic impacts that have been completely ignored.
"We're glad someone is finally listening because environmental groups like the Sierra Club and Greenpeace certainly aren't," said Testa (R-1). "They're all parroting Governor Murphy's mantra of 'nothing to see here.' We know Governor Murphy doesn't care what it will cost New Jerseyans on their electric bills or the toll it will take on marine mammal lives to fulfill his extreme green energy agenda. Hopefully, the GAO will finally give us some real answers about the impact of wind farms, both in terms of lives and dollars."