CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE, NJ -- Congressman Jeff Van Drew and Cape May County Board of County Commissioner Director Len Desiderio today announced they will work together on issues surrounding the proposed wind farms off of Cape May County. With an unprecedented number of dead whales washing up on area beaches with no definitive answers as to the cause of death, Congressman Van Drew has called for a pause of wind farm construction survey activities. Van Drew has been joined by a number of local elected officials and state legislators in calling for the survey to pause. Desiderio echoed those concerns.
“When we hear that no one knows why the whales are dying, but we know it is not from the windmill activity,” Desiderio said, “we can’t help but be doubtful. Until there is a definitive answer that the wind farm activities are not killing the whales, we should simply pause until we have that answer. It might mean the differences between more whales dying or not.”
The Ocean Wind One project off Atlantic and Cape May Counties has petitioned the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to take decision-making authority away from the elected officials of Ocean City and Cape May County and give it to the owner of the project. The County and Ocean City have opposed these petitions. Cape May County is awaiting a decision from the BPU while Ocean City has appealed its decision to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court. Nine other Cape May County municipalities have joined Cape May County in its opposition to the Ocean Wind petition.
“It was irresponsible to take home rule away from our towns and counties when it comes to decisions related to the wind farms.” Van Drew said. “Now, an unelected state Board is going to push aside the representatives the voters elected. This is a terrible power grab.”
Danish wind company Orsted, the project owner, faces extraordinary downward financial pressure on the project from various forces such as supply chain issues and inflation, including the withdrawal of its partner, PSEG, which recently pulled its 25% stake out of the Ocean Wind One project.
“We have seen no information out of the BPU or the project owner about what the PSEG withdrawal means for the financial viability of the project,” said Desiderio. “Is it still feasible? Are the people of Cape May County being put through all of this only to have the project never happen due to financial problems? These are questions that should be answered right now so that we can all have a sense of where we are headed instead of having to wonder.”
Congressman Van Drew was recently named Vice Chair of the powerful U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee. The Committee has oversight of all maritime and waterborne transportation, federal real estate management, and all issues involving the United States Coast Guard.
“The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, among others, will be conducting hearings on President Biden’s offshore wind plans," added Van Drew. "Are these projects killing the whales and threatening other marine life? Are these projects economically feasible without massive taxpayer subsidies? Will these projects actually have a positive impact on climate change? What will be the impact on our commercial fishing and tourism industries? Is there any truth whatsoever to the rumors of tax windfalls for supportive municipalities? How much more will our residents pay for electricity as a result of the construction of these windmills? We know that prices are going to go up, not down. All of these questions and more must be answered and we will be convening oversight hearings as soon as possible to get to the bottom of these issues.”
Desiderio supported Van Drew’s efforts to conduct hearings and invited the Congressman to bring a Congressional hearing to Cape May County.
“Congressman Van Drew knows these issues and how important they are to our area,” Desiderio said. “We absolutely support Congressional hearings, and we would like to work with Congressman Van Drew and offer our facilities to bring a Congressional Hearing to Cape May County so that our residents and visitors can participate close to home. We are not anti-wind or anti-renewable energy, and there may be some positive economic aspects to the project, but before we acquiesce to the negative environmental impacts and watch the installation of windmills that we will see from our beaches for the next thirty years, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered.”