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NJ Offshore Wind Would Have Little Environmental Impact

A two-year research project led by the New Jersey DEP shows minimal environmental impact would occur at sites proposed for several wind energy projects off the coast of New Jersey.

The draft final report shows there would be negligible impacts to bird, fish and marine mammal life caused by wind’ turbines which could be located from 3 to 20 miles out to sea.

“We now have the science and data needed to take the first steps towards making wind energy projects a reality for New Jersey,’’ said Commissioner Martin. “It puts us in the forefront environmentally, while also providing New Jersey with a great economic boost from jobs that will be created by this new green industry. These types of projects will have a long-term effect on climate change and help us end our reliance on fossil fuels. We would much rather have wind turbines than oil rigs off the coast of New Jersey.’’

The preliminary findings of the US $7 million study, performed by DEP contractor Geo-Marine Inc., were released at a meeting at DEP headquarters in Trenton with key stakeholders on the wind energy issue, including environmentalists, industry representatives and public officials.

The study area included 75 miles of coastal area from Seaside Park to North Wildwood, and explored approximately 1,360 square nautical miles. It looked at the abundance, distribution and migratory patterns of avian species, fish, marine mammals and sea turtles. It factored in shipping lanes, pipelines, tug and barge transit routes and undersea utility lines, while mapping artificial reefs, commercial and recreational fishing areas, and marine protected areas.

The information generated can be used to support evaluation of a pilot turbine project proposed by Fisherman’s Energy that would be located some three miles off the coast, as well as three lease areas approved by the federal government for future meteorological studies to be done by three private companies at sites 8 miles, 16 to 18 miles, and 20 miles off the coast.

Designed by scientists from the DEP, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Minerals Management Service, the study will help identify optimum sites off the Jersey coast for wind energy projects that would have the least impact on the environment. The final report is expected to be completed and released in July.

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