Hundreds of New Jersey residents gathered on Sunday to rally against offshore wind energy due to a recent uptick in whale deaths in the area, Fox News Digital reported.
Lawmakers, local officials, environmentalists, and residents attended the Sunday rally in Point Pleasant Beach. Attendees called on officials to "defund green energy" and requested a federal moratorium on offshore wind power.
Protesters claimed that the recent deaths of 10 whales discovered in New Jersey and New York might be linked to offshore wind energy construction. Those deaths included a 35-foot humpback whale that washed up on a New Jersey beach last week. Another 25-foot whale was found dead in Rockaway Beach, New York, days later. Since December, additional dead whales have been discovered in Maryland and Virginia.
During the rally, Republican Representative Chris Smith of New Jersey stated, "Today, the whales are sending us a tragic message that demands transparency and accountability — both of which has been sorely missing from Governor Murphy's plan to use New Jersey's coast as the prime location for the offshore wind industry in the U.S."
Smith noted that the whales' unexplained deaths had raised questions and concerns regarding the role the offshore wind construction may have played.
"There is great concern for the potential serious—even catastrophic— damage to marine ecosystems leading to the destruction of the New Jersey's fishing and tourism businesses if hundreds, and even thousands, of wind turbines are installed off the New Jersey coast," Smith added. "Thus far, sound surveys and the underwater noise generated by acoustic vessels have occurred, but next steps include construction, pile driving creating high intensity underwater noise."
Smith called for an independent analysis of the impact of offshore wind construction noises on marine wildlife. He called for the projects to be put on hold in the meantime.
Meanwhile, environmental groups claimed no link between the whales' deaths and offshore wind turbine construction.
"We have always worked alongside the environmental community to protect marine life and follow rigorous standards when developing projects," American Clean Power told Fox News Digital. "The recent whale strandings are tragic, and it's disheartening to see this tragedy being used as an excuse by clean energy detractors trying to stop the growth of a new energy source for Americans."
"It's just a cynical disinformation campaign," Greenpeace oceans director John Hocevar told USA Today.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration called the unexplained whale deaths "unusual mortality events."
"[T]here is no evidence to support speculation that noise resulting from wind development-related site characterization surveys could … cause mortality of whales, and no specific links between recent large whale mortalities and currently ongoing surveys," NOAA stated.
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