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Jun 28

Written by: Diana West
Wednesday, June 28, 2023 7:38 AM 

This graphic, created by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), shows the extent of proposed offshore wind energy projects in the North Atlantic region. All of the lease areas were purchased through BOEM-conducted auctions.  


In "Destroying the Environment to Save It," John Leake alerts us to this important report by Linda Bonvie on the mass sacrifice underway of whales to the marine-industrial complex of wind turbines and oil & gas drilling in the Atlantic Ocean between New Jersey and Massachusetts. 

Leake writes: 

Reading it this morning over coffee reminded me of Peter Arnett’s famous 7 February 1968 dispatch from the Battle of Bến Tre in Vietnam:

It became necessary to destroy the town to save it,' a United States major said today. He was talking about the decision by allied commanders to bomb and shell the town regardless of civilian casualties, to rout the Vietcong...

In order to “Save the Climate,” the Biden Administration has leased gigantic swaths of coastal seabed between Martha’s Vineyard and the New Jersey Shore for the construction of colossal wind turbine farms. The huge blitz of sonar for ocean bottom mapping is inflicting grave harm on whales and dolphins, who desperately flee from the maddening noise. Some dive to perilous depths; others run to the shoreline and beach themselves, suffering cruel and painful deaths.

It is extremely painful to read what investigative journalist has Linda Bonvie set forth:

From last December to mid-April, there were forty-one marine mammal strandings along the New Jersey shore alone. That included nine dead humpback whales, a “dependent” female calf sperm whale that washed up alive and died on the beach, a female dolphin who died at the scene and her calf who was euthanized, and eight dolphins that were still alive when they became simultaneously stranded in Sea Isle City. Two died where they landed, and six were subsequently euthanized on the beach.

If you include New York whale strandings during that same time period, two minke whales, four more humpbacks, two sperm whales, and one unidentified whale can be added to the tally. And during the writing of this article, ten more dolphins stranded off the New Jersey coast, with another dead female minke whale, two deceased humpbacks observed floating in New York waters, and another unidentified whale washing ashore in Hempstead on East Atlantic Beach, Long Island.

People soon started questioning whether these deaths were connected to ongoing surveying activities, which use a variety of acoustic devices offshore. Boats operating different types of sonar had been increasing at a steady rate since Orsted received its first official authorization to “harass” marine mammals back in 2017. Atlantic Shores admits they have had such “vessels in the field continuously” beginning in 2019.

The federal powers-that-be, however, issued an immediate response.

There is “no evidence linking the strandings to offshore wind energy development,” said the Marine Mammal Commission, a government agency that was established by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) of 1972 to provide “independent oversight.” The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, more commonly referred to as NOAA Fisheries, agreed, as did the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). Quick to join in were environmental groups such as Greenpeace, which called any suggestion of a connection between whale deaths and sonar activity “a cynical disinformation campaign.”

Headlines soon started appearing, such as one in the Philadelphia Inquirer labeling suspicions of sonar involvement in whale deaths “right-wing conspiracy theories.”

The “fact check” staff at USA Today jumped in, too, saying experts find “no evidence” that “offshore wind projects are killing whales.”

But how do these experts know with such certainty that the escalating underwater din generated by multi-beam echosounders, sparkers, boomers, and CHIRPs haven’t played a role in injuring, confusing, or distressing marine mammals, potentially leading to their deaths?

They don’t. And they’ve said so numerous times.  

Bonvie goes on to catalogue examples from the relevant government agencies attesting to, hedging as best they can, the uncertain or disruptive consequences of wind industry development on marine mammals and other wildlife. In other words, these government agencies are lying to the media again, and the media "fact-checkers" (that word again) are, as usual, re-enforcing their lies.

Of course, they needn'y bother with any of this disinfomrmation because it turns that the 1972 Maine Mammal Protection Act actually allows for the mass killing of the very marine mammals the act is supposed to protect. Bonvie explains:

One of the more curious parts to the MMPA is a provision that allows for “takes,” defined as activities that “harass, hunt, capture, or kill, or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill any marine mammal.”

Upon request, NOAA Fisheries will issue what are called “incidental harassment authorizations,” or IHAs, that come in two levels, A and B, for takes that are “unintentional, but not unexpected.” 

Level A harassment is defined as “any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance that has the potential to injure a marine mammal” in the wild. Level B is described as acts that can potentially “disturb a marine mammal by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering.” 

For just the New Jersey-New York lease areas alone, NOAA has given out eleven active IHAs (with five pending) for pre-construction activities that represent an allowed take of tens of thousands of marine mammals—whales included.

And even the dwindling population of the endangered right whales. According to The Save Right Whales Coalition, NOAA, on behalf of 26 wind-energy projects, is expected to issue a total of 915 "level B IHAs" -- government sanction to disrupt the life patterns of "migration, breathing, nursing, bredding, feeding or sheltering" of 915 right whales. Today, fewer than 340 right whales are even estimated to be living. How many will survive this mad assault on the environment to "save" it?

What word is strong enough to describe this evil madness? 

And not unlike the past three years of controversy surrounding covid, offshore wind development has become a truly partisan issue.

Bonvie goes on to cover a series of lawsuits and citizen activism mounted against this looming disaster, noting also how it has turned into a partisan issue.  

An online hearing was held at the beginning of May by four New Jersey Republican state senators, again asking for a moratorium on offshore wind-related activities, while, at the same time, Democrats held their own event hyping the economic benefits of offshore wind.

She continues:

A ‘climate suicide pact’

Although the first wave of 1,500 offshore wind turbines planned from southeastern New England to the Carolina coast, including areas off the Delmarva Peninsula and the environmentally fragile Outer Banks, will put untold numbers of marine animals and shore birds in peril, it appears that most environmentalists are willing to sacrifice just about anything when it comes to the phasing out of fossil fuels.

But in actuality, more wind turbines mean more opportunities for oil and gas drilling.

Buried deep in President Biden’s 755-page Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) are provisions that promote drilling for oil and gas both onshore and offshore. Not only are post-IRA onshore wind leases now tethered to the offering of federally owned land for the extraction of fossil fuels, but offshore wind leases also became predicated on making available a whopping sixty million acres of seabed for the purpose of oil and gas drilling the year before any new offshore turbine leases can be tendered. And that’s for the next ten years.

“This is a climate suicide pact” said Brett Hartl, affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity of the IRA plan, calling it “self-defeating to handcuff renewable energy development to massive new oil and gas extraction.”

And it’s not just the turbines. Solar energy “farms” on leased federal land are also bound by similar nods to the oil and gas industry involving the offering-up of millions of acres for fossil fuel extraction.

Greenpeace Research Manager Tim Donaghy described the IRA provisions to this reporter in an email as “. . . giveaways to the fossil fuel industry.” Several other groups that are big backers of offshore wind, such as the Audubon Society and the NRDC, declined to comment.  

What do you think -- it gets still worse:

The fact that wind turbines only have a useful life of around twenty years is not often discussed by the industry. But the decommissioning of an offshore wind “farm,” something covered in numerous official documents, may be just as disastrous to marine life as their installation.

The removal process is described as a “reverse installation” requiring a large “jack-up” vessel able to handle the collective load of the blades, towers, and other components that will be hauled away. “Offshore wind turbines have a large amount of material that must be removed after the structures are decommissioned,” writes Orsted in its Construction and Operations Plan for the Ocean Wind site.

But where will it all go?

Since they currently can’t be recycled, thousands of mothballed turbine blades from decommissioned onshore installations are presently being dumped in landfills. And not just any landfills, but special ones large enough to accommodate their extreme size, which has been compared to the wingspan of a Boeing 747 or even a football field. These humongous fiberglass-containing pieces of wind junk require a special type of blade to cut them into transportable lengths. Stacked piles of defunct turbine blades were likened by one observer to “bleached whale bones” as they awaited burial at a landfill in Casper, Wyoming. ...

Read it all here -- especially as the report turns to Martha's VIneyard, where, Bonvie reports, fifteen miles out to sea, the Belgium-flagged heavy-lift vessel Orion has "[started] the pounding of 2,000 ton steel monopiles into the seabed to support towers that will rise over 800 feet above the ocean...."

The murder of all life on earth continues -- to the end. But I never thought I'd be nostalgic for Ted Kennedy.


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