As whale deaths mount on the east coast, the Biden administration can no longer pretend offshore wind farms are harmless to marine life.
FOX News Digital revealed that the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is quietly offering a grant to study interactions between wind farms and critically endangered North Atlantic right whales. Even though government-issued permits allow the offshore wind industry to kill whales, scientists and allied nonprofits have loudly denied any connection between wind farms and dead whales to protect the industry.
The Biden administration’s total and hypocritical, if not illegal, disregard for the welfare of whales is consistent with the regulatory and financial favoritism it extends to foreign green energy companies who are industrializing America’s coasts. The government’s many accommodations to these entities put a lie to claims that wind energy is good for the environment. (RELATED: STEVE MILLOY: The New Green Activists Would Rather Save The Windmills Than Save The Whales)
The whole path is greased: mandates, subsidies, permits, and see no evil regulators.
Consider the Inflation Reduction Act, President Joe Biden’s signature domestic policy accomplishment, which is burgeoning with giveaways to the wind industry. The law offers a 30 percent tax credit to offshore wind projects that break ground before 2026. Another credit is available for companies that manufacture turbine components or specialty products like installation vessels. The law also appropriates $100 million to model and plan energy transmission.
Blue state governments are doing their part. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D.) recently signed a tax cut for Danish giant Orstead to keep its Ocean Wind 1 project on track. The state is also spending $500 million to build a staging facility for wind farm construction in Salem County. The state will lease the facility to Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind—a joint partnership between American subsidiaries of British and French companies—but won’t disclose the lease terms. Doubtless, they’re generous to the company.
Developers need this kind of government largesse if they’re going to proceed. Projects are encountering cost overruns owing to inflation. Steel prices and interest rates are higher than expected. Avangrid recently paid almost $50 million in fines to scrap a 1200-megawatt project off the coast of Massachusetts. The developer cited supply chain upheaval.
The company will likely rebid the project at a higher price. Spanish energy giant Iberdrola owns Avangrid. SouthCoast Wind, another New England project, is similarly backing out of its contracts with Massachusetts because of unfavorable macroeconomic conditions. Southcoast Wind is another British-French energy venture.
Environmental regulators are doing the industry plenty of favors and helping developers cut corners.
For example, federal regulators broadly authorize developers to harm animals in the ocean. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issues permits for particular projects authorizing a specific number of “takes” per species. One proposed permit for Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind authorizes “takes” for 42 whales, 1,472 seals, and 2,678 dolphins.
These permits are licenses to kill.
Wind industry proponents lamely insist that taking permits only authorizes ecosystem displacement or low-grade injury. Make no mistake, when marine mammals die around these project sites, developers will point to the take authorizations to avoid consequences. It’s doubtful that federal regulators will even try to penalize developers over dead mammals. The take authorizations are a tacit admission that regulators anticipate wind farms will cause significant environmental damage.
As the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA) has argued, it’s likely that environmental surveys actually undersell the damage wind turbines cause. Regulators are assessing the environmental impact on a project-by-project basis. But to understand how wind farms are affecting ocean ecosystems, they should be assessing the cumulative effects of development.
The special treatment the wind industry enjoys reflects the extent to which it’s captured the regulatory agencies.
Take deputy Interior secretary Tommy Beaudreau. ProPublica reported that Beaudreau represented wind industry developers as a partner at Latham & Watkins. Beaudreau, as ProPublica notes, is now regulating the very entities he once represented as a lawyer. Likewise, Amanda Lefton served in the Biden administration for two years as director of BOEM, but recently left to join Foley Hoag. The firm has represented the Vineyard Wind project near Martha’s Vineyard, according to ProPublica.
It will be months before the BOEM-financed study returns findings on offshore wind and marine life. Whatever the results, if they can even be trusted, don’t expect the Biden administration to abandon its creepy commitment to the industry. They will just be more shameless.
As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.