Blue State County Votes Unanimously Against Offshore Wind Development
A county in New Jersey has voted unanimously to oppose a proposed offshore wind farm for its shoreline, citing the project’s negative impacts on the environment, the tourism industry and beach views.
In a 4-0 vote this week, the Cape May County, New Jersey, Board of Commissioners passed a resolution giving the green light to the reasonable use of all county resources to oppose the wind projects developed by the Danish energy multinational Orsted. The county is also considering legal options and has appealed a state utility permit that it says would transfer residents’ “property interests” to Orsted.
“At first, Cape May County was interested in trying to work with Orsted to find a way forward, perhaps with some modifications to the project to reduce visual, environmental and economic impacts,” said Len Desiderio, director of the Cape May County Board of Commissioners. in a report.
“We would like to see onshore offshore wind facilities and supply chain infrastructure built here in New Jersey because it would create good opportunities for commercial and other workers,” Desiderio continued. “But we cannot sit quietly as hundreds of wind turbines are installed off our beaches while state and federal government agencies ignore our legitimate and serious concerns.”
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The resolution specifically targets Orsted’s Ocean Wind 1 and Ocean Wind 2 projects, which together would consist of nearly 200 wind turbines on 161,000 acres in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Cape May County. According to the county, the turbines would be as close as nine miles from its shoreline and would be visible from any beach in the county.
The project would also include two transmission line corridors with a substation in Cape May County.
According to the resolution, Cape May County officials engaged with Orsted since 2021, but negotiations ultimately fell apart after the company turned to state and federal officials who supported the development.
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“Over time, it became clear that Orsted was not interested in finding a compromise,” added Desiderio, the chairman of the county board of commissioners.
“It is clear to us now that the approach of this foreign company and its partners in state and federal governments is to build these things as quickly as possible despite the potential for devastating environmental and economic impacts,” he said. -he declares. “On behalf of the people of Cape May County, we will not let this happen without a fight.”
The county further argued that the wind project would have little to no positive impact on global warming, result in a 15% drop in tourism, which would result in a $1 billion loss to the economy. local area and harm marine life.
As part of the effort to oppose Orsted’s plans, the county has hired the Washington, D.C.-based law firm Cultural Heritage Partners, the environmental consulting group Warwick Consulting and the former judge of New Jersey Superior Court Michael Donohue to serve as special counsel and offshore wind. coordinator.
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“The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, along with its chairman, other members and staff, after announcing they were ‘partners’ with Orsted and wearing wind blade pins, deprived the county and Ocean City of due process and acted in an indefensible and unjust manner to speak out in favor of the Danish Wind Company and against the duly elected officials of Ocean City and County,” Donohue said in a statement.
“The commissioners have authorized the exploration of legal challenges on all fronts, including challenges [New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection] permits and a host of federal permits that will be issued over the next few months,” he continued.
Cape May County is the southernmost county in New Jersey, consists of 16 separate jurisdictions, and has a population of approximately 95,000.
Orsted did not immediately respond to a request for comment.