Sponsored by Republicans Gerry Scharfenburger and Victoria Flynn, the resolution argues the “unprecedented number of these deaths...in or near areas of offshore wind energy development may be more than coincidental and warrants State and federal investigation.”
A total of 12 whales have died off the coast of New Jersey since December 2022, and five dolphins since February 2023, the resolution stated.
At the federal level, Republican congresspeople who oppose wind development said they will hold hearings in Washington on the issue.
The resolution comes just weeks after New Jersey opened a 4GW offshore wind tender, adding to 3.75GW awarded across two previous rounds.
But the resolution would need significant Democratic support to pass — Democrats hold a 46-34 majority in New Jersey’s lower house.
US officials have said there is no evidence that sonar is responsible fo the whale deaths, and that vessel strikes and entanglement with fishing gear may explain some of them.
Speaking earlier this week, a spokesperson for US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) told Windpower Monthly that it and the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) fisheries office “rigorously assessed the potential effects of HRG [high-resolution geophysical] surveys associated with offshore wind development in the Atlantic, and … concluded that these types of surveys are not likely to injure whales or other endangered species”
The agency requires each survey to have independent protected species observers to ensure safety and minimise the possibility of vessel strikes, the spokesperson said. And each survey “must establish an acoustic exclusion zone that is clear of any marine mammals and sea turtles for a certain amount of time before acoustic sound sources can operate.”