As the debate continues over what is causing so many dead whales to wash ashore along the New Jersey and New York coastline, New Jersey Congressman Chris Smith, R-4th District, has introduced legislation requiring what he terms “an immediate, comprehensive investigation” into the environmental approval process for offshore wind projects.

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Smith’s bill would require the Government Accountability Office to investigate the sufficiency of the environmental review process for offshore wind projects, including the impact on whales, finfish, marine mammals, benthic resources, commercial and recreational fishing, air quality and greenhouse gas emissions, vessel traffic, tourism, and the sustainability of shoreline beaches and inlets.

Earlier this week, Smith complained about the Biden administration ignoring his calls to suspend work that is underway for a giant wind farm off the Jersey coast.

Beached whale on Lido Beach in Long Island
(Atlantic Marine Conservation Society)
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A full-court press for answers

Smith, in a release sent on Friday, said “as part of a full-court press for answers, my legislation will investigate the level of transparency from federal agencies that greenlighted this aggressive offshore wind development and determine how much scrutiny was implemented in reviewing the environmental and maritime safety of this project, especially given its unprecedented size and scale.”

Meanwhile, New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-2nd District, announced on Friday in a statement that he will be holding a hearing on March 16 regarding offshore wind projects. The time and location were not available at the time of his announcement.

Van Drew said he will also be introducing a bill that places a moratorium on all existing wind farm projects, and legislation that will prohibit all future projects.

"These projects will have substantial impacts on the local tourism industry, the fishing industry, and the surrounding environment,” Van Drew said.

Whale off Manasquan 2/13/23
Whale off Manasquan 2/13/23 (Jersey Shore Fire Response (Paul Kanitra)
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An unprecedented number of dead whales

On Monday, another dead whale washed ashore between Manasquan and Point Pleasant Beach, the ninth whale carcass that has been found on a beach along the New Jersey and New York coast since December.

Some environmental groups and a growing number of Republican elected officials are calling for a halt to all offshore wind development activity until it can be determined if there is a link between the work and the whale deaths.

These suggestions are misguided, according to the governor

Gov. Phil Murphy, along with the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions and other environmental groups, insist suggestions that the whale deaths are in any way linked to plans to construct a giant wind farm out in the Atlantic are misguided.

The group Greenpeace has stated efforts to stop offshore wind development are part of a "cynical disinformation campaign" that is not based on scientific evidence.

Earlier this week New Jersey State Senators Vince Polistina, R-Atlantic, and Jim Holzapfel, R-Ocean, along with Assembly representatives Greg McGuckin and John Catalano, both R-Ocean, called on the governor to temporarily halt offshore wind-related work out in the Atlantic Ocean.

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