⚫ NJ GOP lawmakers holding another offshore windfarm “hearing”
⚫ They continue to demand a halt to windfarm development in the ocean
⚫ Gov. Phil Murphy continues to brush aside windfarm concerns

New Jersey State Senate Republicans are planning to hold what they are describing as an “independent hearing” this week to gather testimony on the surge of whale and dolphin deaths along the Jersey Shore in recent months.

At least 41 whales and dolphins have died and washed ashore since the end of last year and some environmental groups, including Clean Ocean Action, along with several Republican lawmakers have called for a moratorium on offshore windfarm development until a possible link between the deaths and windfarm work has been ruled out.

Humpback whale in Brigantine, NJ (Jan.13, 2023) (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)
Humpback whale in Brigantine, NJ (Jan.13, 2023) (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

At least three federal agencies have rejected the idea that offshore wind activity has had anything to do with the uptick in whale and dolphin fatalities, and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has repeatedly declined to stop the survey work that is underway.

Gov. Murphy (AP/Matt Rourke). Offshore wind turbines (AP/Michael Dwyer, File) (Townsquare Media illustration)
Gov. Murphy (AP/Matt Rourke). Offshore wind turbines (AP/Michael Dwyer, File) (Townsquare Media illustration)

They claim there is no evidence

Murphy and several environmental groups including the Sierra Club insist there is no evidence of a possible connection and they have labeled those demanding a halt to windfarm development as cynical opponents of clean energy.

The virtual State Senate event, which will be livestreamed on Facebook, will feature Sens. Tony Bucco, R-Morris, Vince Polistina, R-Atlantic, Michael Testa, R-Cumberland, Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth, along with invited scientists, advocacy groups, local officials, and impacted businesses.

The livestream will be Wednesday, May 9 at 9:45 a.m. and can be seen here.

Sharp differences of opinion

Earlier this week U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J. 6th District, and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. spoke at a forum in Long Branch blaming climate change and shipping for the uptick in whale and dolphin deaths.

Pallone noted as water temperatures rise, fish that whales eat have been moving into different areas, bringing whales more frequently into the path of heavily traveled shipping lanes off the East Coast.


Back in March, U.S. Reps. Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J. 2nd District, and Chris Smith, R-N.J. 4th District, held what was also billed as an “independent hearing” that was livestreamed from the Wildwood Convention Center, with invited guests that testified about the need to halt offshore wind development..

According to the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, the last dead whale to wash ashore along the Jersey coast was March 24 in Ocean City.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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