POINT PLEASANT BEACH — The Ocean County Mayors Association Wednesday gave unanimous approval to a resolution calling for a moratorium on the offshore wind projects due to recent whale deaths.
The argument was also pressed at a Save Our Whales rally on Point Pleasant Beach by Mayor Paul Kanitra, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith and other officials, and environmentalists, including Clean Ocean Action.
Mayor Kanitra had said he would be pressing the county mayor’s group to join the calls for a moratorium.
Bay Head Mayor William Curtis, who is also president of county mayors group, said, “We think they need to stop until it is determined whether or not they are causing the whales to die.” He said he was referring to exploratory work being done offshore in anticipation of a wind energy project by the Danish company Ørsted off Atlantic City.
“All of the pounding and the sonar search has coincidentally happened when a lot of the whales are washing up on shore,” he said.
Mr. Curtis said the Ocean County Mayors Association includes non-mayoral members, including some state Fish and Wildlife Services representatives and municipal engineers who meet to discuss important topics that affect the towns of Ocean County.
Mayor Curtis a Republican, as is Mayor Kanitra, said, “We do not do any political discussions. Everyone can speak their peace without worrying about who is Democrat or Republican.”
However, an anti-wind energy rally Sunday that drew hundreds to the boardwalk in Point Pleasant Beach was not without political overtones. Demonstrators displayed signs demanding the recall of Gov. Murphy, a Democrat, for his support of wind energy. A press release from the office of U.S. Rep. Smith, a Republican who represents the Fourth Congressional District, quoting his address to the rally, described the Ørsted project as “the Biden-Murphy offshore wind farm.”
While also describing the project as “Governor Murphy’s plan to use New Jersey’s Coast for Offshore Wind Farms,” the congressman otherwise stressed the project’s risks to New Jersey’s fishing and tourism industries.
“The whales are sending us a message that demands transparency and accountability,” he told the gathering.
Gov. Murphy’s press secretary, Bailey Lawrence, issued a response Tuesday, saying, “Governor Murphy has been abundantly clear: the Murphy Administration takes very seriously every potential threat to New Jersey’s treasured marine ecosystems and mammals, and we will always ground our policy decisions in the most up-to-date science and evidence.
“But the notion that either this Administration or its federal counterparts have not adequately investigated tragic whale deaths is categorically false. Scientific experts at the NJDEP and NJBPU are working in close coordination with NOAA and other federal partners, who have been monitoring and studying this phenomenon for more than half a decade.
“The results of their investigations have been unanimous and unmistakable: at this time, there is no evidence of specific links between recent whale mortalities and ongoing surveys for offshore wind development.”
Sophie Diehl also contributed to this story.
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