Orsted proposes to build a wind farm 15 miles off the South Jersey coast. This photo shows the turbines for an Orsted project overseas. (Photo credit Orsted)

A group of 11 grassroots groups representing coastal waters and communities against what they believed would be the industrialization of the ocean through offshore wind farms responded to the announcement this week that Orsted was abandoning its Ocean Wind 1 and Ocean Wind 2 projects along the Jersey Shore.

The announcement by Orsted on Oct. 31 marks an important milestone in the coalition’s ongoing fight against offshore wind industrialization along the East Coast, according to a news release.

“We are in this for the long haul and we are not going away. We will fight to stop this every step of the way – in the court of public opinion and in the justice system,” said Keith Moore of Defend Brigantine Beach.

“We remain united in our efforts and commitment to stopping this reckless industrialization of our ocean and coastal communities,” added Apostolos Gerasoulis of Save the East Coast.

Protect Our Coast New Jersey spokesman Robin Shaffer said, “Governor Murphy issued a statement calling into question Orsted’s ‘credibility and competence,’ and their move ‘outrageous.’ You know what is more outrageous? Giving away billions in tax and ratepayer money to a multibillion-dollar energy corporation, degrading marine fisheries, hurting small businesses and forever altering our coastlines. That’s what’s outrageous. Orsted’s decision to walk away was the right move and represents progress for New Jersey.”

The 11 groups operate along the East Coast from Massachusetts and Rhode Island down south to Virginia.

The groups include Defend Brigantine Beach, Save Jersey Shore, Save the East Coast, Protect Our Coast NJ and Green Oceans. The others are ACK Residents Against Turbines, Save the Horseshoe Crab, Protect Our Coast Delmarva, Protect Our Coast Long Island, Guardians of The East Coast, and Windmills in Saltwater — Versus the Voices of Reason.

Together, they actively represent more than 75,000 active followers. A petition launched earlier this year and shared by the groups was signed by more than 506,000 people.

David Shanker, a New Jersey-based spokesman for Green Oceans, said of Orsted’s decision, “New Jersey was rushing too fast to implement offshore wind programs without doing its due diligence both in terms of the partners it was choosing to enter into contract with and the impact that these turbine systems and their construction are and will have on marine mammals, coastal communities and their economies, and public safety.”

Shanker continued, “Orsted’s proposed Jersey Shore projects were going to cost taxpayers all while failing to impact global warming. We hope our elected officials will make the most of this major warning sign and cease the reckless and rapid industrialization of the Garden State’s greatest gem, our shore.”

Each of the organizations plan to ramp up their efforts to protect marine life, ecosystems, coastal communities and their economies across the Eastern Seaboard from the dangers brought by other proposed offshore wind projects, the news release said.

More than 25 active lease sites remain slated for offshore wind projects from Massachusetts to South Carolina.

“Our fight continues,” said Mike Dean, of Save Jersey Shore. “These projects are unsustainable without outsize ratepayer and taxpayer subsidies and the industrialization of our coastline will bring with it environmental catastrophe. This reckless undertaking needs to be stopped.”

Orsted is a Danish wind energy company. Its abandonment of its Jersey Shore projects follows 10 months of unprecedented whale and dolphin strandings in proximity to offshore wind survey activity along the East Coast.

More than 72 large whales washed ashore from Maine to Florida, including more than 30 in New Jersey and New York where survey activity increased significantly in conjunction with the increased whale deaths, according to the release.

The action comes following a summer of widespread advocacy by the groups, which helped change the course of public opinion with facts and increase political pressure, the release stated.

Several of the groups, along with Ocean City and Cape May County, also filed multiple lawsuits against Orsted and state and federal agencies challenging the legality of the projects, related laws, and the permitting processes.

Categories: Downbeach

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.