Three groups are suing New Jersey over its blockage of an offshore wind farm

LONG BEACH TOWNSHIP, N.J. – Three anti-wind energy groups are suing New Jersey to overturn a key environmental permit for a wind farm planned off the coast of Long Beach Island.

Save Long Beach Island, defend Brigantine Beach and protect our coastline. NJ filed a lawsuit April 26 in the Court of Appeals challenging the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s determination that the Atlantic Shores wind farm project meets the requirements of a federal coastal protection law.

Atlantic Shores is one of three planned wind farms off the coast of New Jersey that have preliminary approval.

Bruce Afran, an attorney for the groups, said the state’s approval conflicts with the federal regulator’s environmental impact statement, which says the Atlantic Shores project will harm marine habitat, compact and harden the seabed, harm marine communities and endanger migration corridors, threatened species and leads to declines in commercial fishing stocks.”

The same three groups objected to a wind farm by Danish wind energy company Orsted, which scrapped the project in October.

The lawsuit was the latest obstacle to New Jersey’s push to become a leader in offshore wind on the East Coast. These three groups are among the most vocal and combative opponents of offshore wind projects.

The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office declined to comment on the pending litigation, and Atlantic Shores did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

But Joshua Henne, a political strategist who advises several groups fighting climate change, accused the anti-wind groups of acting in league with the fossil fuel industry.

“These efforts have nothing to do with grassroots movements,” he said. “It’s artificial turf sown by the fossil fuel industry.”

Robin Shaffer, president of Protect Our Coast, denied that claim.

“We have never taken a dime from a company associated with the fossil fuel industry,” he said. “Not one.”

Until a year ago, the group used the Caesar Rodney Institute to hold its money. According to the Energy and Policy Institute, the Delaware-based group is part of a group of think tanks that support and are funded by fossil fuel interests.

Caesar Rodney charged Protect Our Coast a 12% fee to keep his money, Shaffer said, adding that his group currently has no relationship with the institute.

He also noted that one of Atlantic Shores’ owners is a subsidiary of Shell, the global oil and gas company.

Shaffer said state and federal officials are racing to approve offshore wind projects without adequately considering potential negative impacts.

“It’s like they’re building a plane while it’s in the air, except they have no idea where the plane is going or if it can be landed safely,” he said.

Jason Ryan, a spokesman for the American Clean Power Association, said the current list of offshore wind projects is “among the most carefully planned and analyzed infrastructure projects in U.S. history; we are confident that their approvals will stand up to legal scrutiny.”

Earlier this week, New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities opened a fourth round of bidding for additional offshore wind projects.

The state has set a goal of generating 100% of its electricity from clean sources by 2035.


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