Save the Whales… Or Save the Planet?

Guest “Did the whales do this on porpoise?” by David Middleton

Vineyard Wind Harpooned By New Federal Lawsuit

By Robert Bryce
December 27, 2021

Despite more than a decade of hype and the promise of billions of dollars in federal and state subsidies, the offshore wind boondoggle – and yes, boondoggle is the right word for it – keeps getting torpedoed by delays and litigation. 

The latest harpoon to slam the nascent industry hit recently when the Austin-based Texas Public Policy Foundation sued three federal agencies in U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. on behalf of several commercial fishing groups. The suit alleges that the permit awarded to the proposed 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind project violates numerous federal laws including the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, and National Environmental Policy Act.

[…]

The litigation was filed four months after a study found that the waters south of New England are crucial habitat for the Right Whale. Between 2011 and 2019, some 327 unique Right Whales were spotted in the region. Furthermore,  the endangered whales have been sighted in the area south of the Vineyard Wind site every month over the past few years. The study also found consistent use of the area proposed for wind-energy development by a third of the species and nearly a third of breeding females. 

[…]

It’s time to end the hype about offshore wind and the giveaways to foreign corporations. Let’s hope these lawsuits succeed and they scuttle the offshore wind business once and for all. I’ll end by saying once again that if policymakers are serious about decarbonizing the electric grid, they need to get serious about nuclear energy. 

Robert Bryce is the host of the Power Hungry Podcast, producer of the documentary, Juice: How Electricity Explains the World, and author, most recently, of A Question of Power: Electricity and the Wealth of Nations.

RealClearEnergy

The right whale population in the vicinity of the proposed Vineyard Wind project has experienced a nearly seven-fold increase over the past decade.

It is thought that there are only about 400 right whales in the entire world and half of them appear to be conducting a sit-in swim-in in order to block construction of this boondoggle.

Right Whale Use of Southern New England Wind Energy Areas Increasing

July 29, 2021

Southern New England habitat is important to the North Atlantic right whale. With offshore wind energy development planned in the region, working with stakeholders to minimize potential impacts on right whales and other protected species is crucial.

Right whales are increasing their use of southern New England waters, including regions slated for offshore wind energy development, according to aerial survey data collected during the last decade. Offshore wind energy installations are proposed in waters off the south coasts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Understanding and minimizing the potential impacts from construction noise, increased vessel traffic, and habitat alteration will be crucial to protecting and conserving this endangered species. This research supports the Administration’s goal of deploying offshore wind while protecting biodiversity and promoting ocean co-use.

The study was published July 29 in Endangered Species Research. Marine mammal researchers from NOAA Fisheries and colleagues at the New England Aquarium and the Center for Coastal Studies examined aerial survey data collected between 2011–2015 and 2017–2019. The data was collected in offshore waters including the Massachusetts and Rhode Island Wind Energy Area. The data from these two time periods were used to quantify right whale distribution, residency, demographics, and movements in the region.

“We found that right whale use of the region increased during the last decade, and since 2017 whales have been sighted there nearly every month, with large aggregations occurring during the winter and spring,” said Tim Cole, lead of the whale aerial survey team at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center and a co-author of the study.

[…]

Increased Noise, Vessel Traffic, Habitat Alterations Possible

Construction and operation of hundreds of wind turbines is likely to introduce increased ocean noise, vessel traffic and possibly habitat alteration. All of these factors have the potential to affect right whales.  

Increased vessel traffic in the region will bring with it a greater risk of vessel strikes, one of the leading causes of serious injury and death of right whales. 

Increased noise from wind turbine construction and operations and vessels could also directly impact important whale behaviors and interfere with the detection of critical acoustic cues. These types of impacts may also be associated with physiological stress and could affect the whales’ use of the region.

The presence of wind turbine foundations may impact oceanographic and atmospheric conditions including potential changes in ocean stratification. This might alter the formation of plankton aggregations and thus foraging opportunities for right whales.

[…]

NOAA

A taste of their own medicine

The truly ironic thing is that Texas Public Policy Foundation is using the same tactics that Enviromarxist terrorist organizations environmental activist groups have used to slow down and/or block offshore oil & gas operations.

NRDC Sues to Challenge Seismic Testing in the Gulf of Mexico
July 22, 2021 Michael Jasny
Among the animals at greatest risk from the impacts of seismic testing is the Gulf of Mexico whale—one of the most endangered marine mammals on the planet.

On January 19, not long before President Biden took office, the National Marine Fisheries Service published a regulation allowing widespread harm from seismic oil and gas testing in the Gulf of Mexico, with minimal protection for marine mammals. It wasn’t the only bad decision that the Trump administration squeezed through in its waning hours, but it was outrageous all the same.

Under the regulation, the oil and gas industry would be permitted to harm whales and dolphins—disrupting their feeding and other vital behavior and, in some cases, injuring them—more than 8 million times over the next five years. It would be permitted to constantly harass species that are still decades from recovering from the Deepwater Horizon spill. 

[…]

NRDC

Now, the entire NRDC screed is a pack of lies and it’s not seismic “testing.” We’ve been shooting seismic surveys in the Gulf of Mexico for about 80 years. After 20 years of exclusive rights, geophysical contractors are actually required to make the basic data available to the public and can be downloaded from the USGS. These data are of immense value to academia.

Almost every square mile of the US OCS is covered by 2d and 3d seismic surveys and there has never been a documented cast of marine airguns harming marine mammals.

Will air guns used in seismic surveys kill dolphins, whales and sea turtles and ruin
coastal communities?

To date, there has been no documented scientific evidence of noise from air guns used in geological and geophysical (G&G) seismic activities adversely affecting marine animal populations or coastal communities. This technology has been used for more than 30 years around the world. It is still used in U.S. waters off of the Gulf of Mexico with no known detrimental impact to marine animal populations or to commercial fishing.

BOEM (2014)

While marine seismic surveys are transient noise sources with a long history of not harming whales, offshore wind turbines are constant noise sources with very little history of their effects on whales… And, even more ironically, marine seismic surveys are required for offshore wind farm site characterizations. Irony can be so ironic!

Save the planet?

Reference

Quintana-Rizzo E, Leiter S, Cole TVN, Hagbloom MN and others (2021) Residency, demographics, and movement patterns of North Atlantic right whales Eubalaena glacialis in an offshore wind energy development area in southern New England, USA. Endang Species Res 45:251-268. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr01137

Triezenberg, P. J., Hart, P. E., and Childs, J. R., 2016, National Archive of Marine Seismic Surveys (NAMSS): A USGS data website of marine seismic reflection data within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ): U.S. Geological Survey Data Release, doi: 10.5066/F7930R7P.

via Watts Up With That?

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December 27, 2021 at 08:41PM

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