Hard on the heels of plans to modify the Endangered Species Act, the Trump administration is ordering a sweeping environmental review of the offshore wind industry, based on concerns voiced by the fishing industry.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, a division of the Interior Department, is ordering a study of the cumulative impact of a string of projects along the East Coast. The review comes in response to concerns from fishermen about the impact of offshore wind development on East Coast fisheries.

…The study will supplement an environmental impact statement of Vineyard Wind LLC, the country’s first major offshore project. The 84-turbine project would be located in federal waters 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts and capable of producing 800 megawatts of electricity, enough to supply 3% of New England’s annual energy needs.

“Because BOEM has determined that a greater build out of offshore wind capacity is reasonably foreseeable than was analyzed in the initial draft EIS [environmental impact statement], BOEM has decided to supplement the Draft EIS and solicit comments on its revised cumulative impacts analysis,” said Tracey Moriarty, a spokeswoman for the bureau.

She confirmed the analysis will consider two projects recently announced by New York: Equinor ASA’s 816-MW Empire Wind and Ørsted A/S’s 880-MW Sunrise Wind development, as well as Ørsted’s 1.1-GW Ocean Wind project in New Jersey.

Vineyard Wind project is south of Martha’s Vineyard is a key component of the offshore wind energy program planned for the East Coast. It has taken heat from those who fish the waters of the coast of Rhode Island.

[Fisherman Ken] Schneider says the seismic activity from the construction is going to change the ocean floor and marine life isn’t going to stay around. He thinks he could lose over 30-percent of his lobster catch because of the construction.

“This is going to affect every fisherman and fishes around these windmills,” Schneider says. “These crabs, these lobsters, seismic activity bothers them I believe and it’s not benefiting any one of us except a foreign company.”

Schneider’s not alone. Fisherman along the Rhode Island and Massachusetts coast fear they could lose a significant portion of their catch. This is especially true for squid fishermen because the wind farm area will be constructed near their fishing grounds.

Those who are surprised that Trump’s administration would weigh seriously the concerns of profitable industries over those subsided and promoted based on theories, hopes, and dreams have not been paying attention.

And while the wind farm may be stalled, the schadenfreude is flowing freely.

Massachusetts Representative Joe Kennedy III called the delay a “double standard.”

“When it comes to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Trump administration has cut every corner and moved through the environmental review period at record speed,” Kennedy, a Democrat, said in an email. “But when it comes to the nation’s first major offshore wind project — which has gone through years of extensive study, public comment and mitigation plans for impacted communities — they are trying to delay it to death.”

 
 
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