Pallone Demands Federal Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment of Wind Farm Proposals
Long Branch, NJ --- Concerned that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could allow the construction of a wind farm off the Monmouth County coast without any public input or an assessment of the environmental and economic impacts, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) today requested the Army Corps not permit the construction of any offshore wind farm projects until the federal agency has completed a comprehensive assessment of all potential environmental and socio-economic impacts. The New Jersey congressman made the request in a letter to Lieutenant General Carl Strock, Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The letter comes in response to a proposal by New York based Winergy, LLS calling for the construction of 1,019 wind turbines off the coast of New Jersey, encompassing 234 square miles of ocean space. One of the projects calls for the construction of 98 windmills 3.5 miles off the Monmouth County coast, reaching from Long Branch to Manasquan in Pallone's congressional district.
"New Jersey's shoreline is extremely valuable for a number of environmental and economic reasons," Pallone wrote in his letter to Lt. Gen. Strock. "Before you begin the process of determining whether and where to permit wind farms, government officials, area residents, and other stakeholder organizations must have a detailed conception of how these projects will impact shore tourism, the fishing industry, offshore recreation, local property values, water quality, and impacts to marine life and migratory bird populations."
Pallone called on the Army Corps to pay particular attention to the impacts that wind farms will have on the aesthetic quality of New Jersey's coastline. Pallone wrote that tourism is a vital part of New Jersey's economy, and voiced the concern of some area residents that wind farms could disrupt the view from the shore and negatively impact the number of tourists visiting New Jersey's beaches.
Since proposals involving offshore wind farms are relatively new, Pallone also voiced concern that a structure is not currently in place outlining the requirements and procedures companies must meet in order to receive a permit to construct wind farms.
"I am also concerned that there does not seem to be a formalized process with strict guidelines to direct how you will issue permits for wind farms, assess these projects' impacts, and ensure public participation," Pallone continued in his letter. "I respectfully request that you develop such a process and inform me how you intend to do so."
The New Jersey congressman will also introduce legislation that would establish a moratorium on offshore wind farms in the Mid-Atlantic Region until a comprehensive assessment of all potential environmental and socio-economic impacts is completed, as well as public comments and forums.