Not Right: Offshore Wind Turbines Threaten Endangered Atlantic Right Whales

The environmental destruction wreaked by offshore wind power is one almighty whale of a problem.

While all power generation systems take a toll on the environment, it’s only the wind industry that claims moral superiority over all others. That tenuous claim – which rests on the ‘we’re saving the planet’ mantra chanted by the wind cult around the Globe – is becoming even harder to sustain with a growing avian and insect carcass count to its credit.

Then there’s the mounting toll offshore.

Not for the first time, and not for the last time, wind turbine noise and vibration has clocked up Cetacean fatalities, messing with whale’s sonar guidance and communication systems: Wind Turbine Noise Terrorising Whales

A couple of years back, we reported on the Cetacean victims of the UK’s offshore wind industry: How ‘Green’ is Wind Power: Offshore Wind Farms Killing Whales

The next wind industry victim appears to be the endangered Atlantic Right Whale, which already has plenty of offshore industrial activity to contend with. But oil and gas extraction, international shipping, and commercial fishing have obvious embodied economic benefits. Whereas, the only economic benefit derived from wind power is the subsidies it attracts. No subsidies. No wind power. It’s that simple. So, if a bunch of crony capitalists and their apologists get their way, get ready to kiss goodbye to the Atlantic Right Whale.

Right whale coalition calls for moratorium on wind turbines to protect endangered species
Cape Cod Times
Rachael Devaney
25 November 2021

A local citizens group has announced the creation of the Save Right Whales Coalition, which is determined to stop offshore wind turbine projects that members say could harm whales.

“Any species whose numbers are this low requires that we not take any additional action that could harm these whales,” political and environmental author and activist Michael Shellenberger said of the endangered North Atlantic right whales. “Particularly given that we have an abundance of nuclear and natural gas resources that would provide a sufficient alternative to these large industrial wind turbines.”

During a Zoom teleconference last week, he said the coalition is composed of members from organizations that include Nantucket Residents Against Turbines, the national Wildlife Energy & Community Coalition, and California-based Environmental Progress (for which Shellenberger is founder and president).

The Save Right Whales Coalition is seeking a moratorium on all offshore wind projects “until further scientific research can be conducted” on their impact on the North Atlantic right whale population, Shellenberger said.

In addition, he said, the group is addressing the record of decision that recently granted Vineyard Wind federal approval to move forward with a large-scale offshore wind energy installation in Nantucket Sound.

Vineyard Wind employees and supporters celebrated a groundbreaking ceremony Nov. 18 on Covell Beach in Centerville for its 800-megawatt wind farm, the first utility-scale project in the country. Vineyard Wind’s lease area is approximately 12 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. Federal officials said they could build up to 62 turbines at this location to produce 800 megawatts of power.

Nantucket resident Mary Chalke said last week that she is a member of Save Right Whales Coalition and Nantucket Residents Against Turbines, which filed a lawsuit in August against the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to block construction of offshore wind turbines in the region. She said she was concerned about the impact of wind farms on “pristine unspoiled ocean, ironically, in the core habitat of the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale.”

“I saw pictures of white blades spinning in unison over a glistening sea, as natural as the breeze,” Chalke said. “But what was less visible, is a planned industrialization and transformation of the natural seabed into concrete metal, high voltage, electrical cables, and rock by federal agencies who are charged with protecting our endangered species.”

What a pro-wind power scientist says
Mark Baumgartner, a senior scientist and marine ecologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, said in a phone interview that he understands vessel activities and associated construction can seem alarming, but said he doesn’t “envision a lot of impact” on the right whale from wind farms. [he clearly hasn’t given it a second’s consideration, but why would he?].

“The plans that I have seen for wind farm construction show the turbines about a mile apart from one another and I don’t envision a lot of impact that would affect food resources,” he said. “Offshore wind is just one more industrial activity that these animals that live in the ocean have to deal with. I absolutely understand the concern. But hopefully we are doing our part trying to help these industries figure out how to minimize their impact on a species like the right whale.” [such as???]

During the press conference, Shellenberger pointed to a 2019 agreement between the National Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation and Conservation Law Foundation and Vineyard Wind. The agreement outlined protective measures Vineyard Wind must take during all phases of construction, such as comprehensive monitoring.

Per the agreement, these measures have the potential to keep right whales safe as operating turbines are installed, he said. In that agreement, Vineyard Wind also pledged to cease construction if right whales migrate close to construction sites.

But Shellenberger said the agreement will expire after five years unless it’s amended or renewed. The safety measures listed in the agreement are “insufficient,” he said, especially since large offshore wind farms were “already scrutinized heavily” by the same organizations in a 2017 written assessment.

“Initially these entities (that entered the agreement with Vineyard Wind) said that no additional risk or harm to these whales would be acceptable,” he said. “We were distressed to learn that these organizations signed off allowing this wind project to move forward.”

Lisa Linowes, a longtime wind energy opponent and member of Save the Whales Coalition, also addressed the agreement and said the “federal government is pressing too quickly to get these (wind farm) projects built.”

“We, unfortunately, have environmental groups that stayed in favor of these projects being built with very limited understanding of the impacts, and various limited understanding as to whether or not the mitigation that they’re talking about will be submitted,” Linowes said.

Jessica Redfern, senior scientist and EcoMap chair at Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium in Boston, said in a phone interview, the situation for right whales is dire. The latest estimates show the total right whale population at 336 in 2020, an 8% percent decrease from 2019 and a 30% decrease since 2011, according to the New England Aquarium website.
Cape Cod Times

Victim of Britain’s offshore wind power onslaught.

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December 10, 2021 at 12:31AM

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