POINT PLEASANT BEACH — Mayor Paul Kanitra and U.S. Rep. Chris Smith addressed a largely Republican rally against offshore wind energy projects along the Jersey Shore on Saturday.
Mayor Kanitra, who is running for state assembly, and Rep. Smith, who is seeking a 23rd term in Congress, were joined by more than 100 offshore wind opponents at Jenkinson’s boardwalk for the event, which was hosted by the Ocean County Federation of Republican Women.
The federation’s president, Noriko Kowalewski, said, “We have been following the offshore wind projects and the enormous amount of devastation toward sea life. We as an organization felt the need to help bring more voices together and more awareness to this important issue.”
Ørsted, a Danish energy corporation with operations in the United States, has been granted federal and state approval for several offshore wind energy projects, including a large farm off the coast of Atlantic County known as Ocean Wind 1.
Among the crowd at the rally were supporters from across Ocean and Monmouth counties, waving signs with protest slogans such as “Whale Lives Matter,” “Recall Murphy” and “Defund Wind Turbines.”
Speaking first at the rally, Mayor Kanitra referred to the Ørsted project with an obscenity and said, “Our opposition doesn’t end until Ørsted’s stock price is in the toilet and they stop this disaster of a project.”
The mayor, who has made opposition to the wind farms a core issue of his campaign, urged the crowd to “send a message” to both Ørsted and Gov. Murphy.
“This is greater than any single one of us. We’re doing this for our neighbors; we’re doing this for our community; we’re doing this for our marine life, our economy and our future,” Mayor Kanitra said. He also issued a warning to “energy companies lurking on the sideline.”
Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, is among the project’s supporters. In July, following federal approval of Ocean Wind 1, Gov. Murphy said that the turbine farm would provide economically inclusive jobs in the clean energy sector. “The future of tomorrow’s industries begins today, and with it the promise of an inclusive 21st-century economy founded upon family-sustaining union jobs and continued growth in emerging sectors,” said the governor.
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