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Recap Congressional Hearing Offshore Wind Turbines, Congressman Andy Harris

Updated: Mar 19


Ocean City Hearing Advisory on Offshore with Maryland Congressman Dr. Andy Harris

Congressman Andy Harris, M.D., held a hearing on January 20, 2024, at 2:00 PM EST, on the effects offshore wind industrialization on our environment, marine life, and economy. Also present were US Congressmen Dr. Jeff Van Drew (NJ-02) and Chris Smith (NJ-04).


WITNESSES: 


INVITED WITNESSES:



This Hearing was very well organized and thought out with appropriate and knowledgeab expert speakers from the relevant fields of interest, which much information presented than many had never heard before. Conspiculously absent were the decision making agencies that would benefit the most from hearing from these industry experts before they make their final decsions, such as BOEM and NOAA. Also conspiculously absent was Mike Dunmeyer, the official spokesman for foreign owned US Wind, who is usually happy to provide his all glowing statistics for offshore wind, but only to a less informed audience perhaps. In addition to the federal respresnetatives present, Maryland State, County and City represenatives were present as well. And of course, well represented at this Hearing were the Mighty 38th!


The Hearing began with statements from Representative Dr. Andy Harris, and the two New Jersey U.S. Congressman who were able to provide their experiences and perspectivesfrom dealing with offshore wind in New Jersey. Followed was testimony from each industry expert, with questions from the Congressman, followed by closing remarks from the Congressman. No questions were granted from the audience, as per usual Congressional Hearing sessions. However, the Mighty 38th managed to have a private interview with Congressman Andy Harris following the session, see interview below!


Below is a summary of the issued addressed in this Hearing and statements form several Maryland representatives. Watch online here.


"We ought to think long and hard as a nation as we begin the industrialization of our ocean off the Mid-Atlantic coast." - Dr. Andy Harris.



SUMMARY



Ocean City Mayor Richard Meehan

Commercial and Recreational Fishing

The industry experts, the Ocean City mayor, and many local Delaware and Maryland commercial fisherman in the audience confirmed that building offshore windfarms would definitely impact the fishing industry in our area, in turn affecting not only the price of seafood but also the ability of US fisherman to even provide seafood as a food source for Americans.


As per Meghan Lapp, "This will be the first time a permanent structure of this size will be built and the regulatory process has been rushed and due diligence has not been done." This sentiment was confirmed by Lisa Linowes, "President Biden approved six offshore wind projects with no intention to halt projects to conduct studies."


As per Ms. Lapp, the size of the project keeps growing. "Millions of acres and thousands of turbines will be installed for the first time." Lapp expressed concern that not only is this proposed project enormous in scale, but that appropriate studies have not been performed to evaluate for the affects of such a large project off the coast. "You can't have both offshore windfarms and commercial fishing. Commercial fishing cannot coexist with offshore windfarms."


As per Bonnie Brady, despite the fact that fishing is one of the most important industries in our nation and even preceded the Republic, local fisherman's associations were not involved in providing industry input, and instead were offered government payments to compensate for impacts on the fishing industry. "Fishing communities opinions were not solicited. The government is offering to pay off fisherman, but fisherman do not want to be bailed out, they want to fish!"


Both Meghan Lapp and Bonnie Brady agreed that the impact on the fishing industry would be so great, that the U.S. would be forced to outsource it's demand for seafood from other countries. "We will go to other nations for food" said Bonnie Brady.


"Offshore wind industry has gotten a pass from the US Government that no other industry has gotten" - Meghan Lapp.



Marine Mammal Deaths

Robert Rand of Rand Acoustics gave his expert testimony on studies he conducted, which he stated he conducted on his own time and dime, due to his love of whales. Rand stated that the sonar impact not only from constructing the offshore wind turbines but also that sonar noise impact from regular usage would be "deafening to whales." Rand reported his own personal experience with underwater listening devices used to drop in on whale conversations, noted a dramatic drop in the conversations between whales, notably between that of a mother whale and her calf.


Lisa Linowes reported that there was a spike in whale deaths in 2016 that correlated with intensive offshore wind sonar activities, known as sonar blasting, during a pre-construction phase of offshore wind development. When the whale necropsies were performed for the deceased whales, examination for level B ear damage was not performed, as would be usually indicated. It was discovered that the New Jersey whale necropsy pathologist was on the US Wind payroll.


Also shocking, was the expert testimony that the NOAA recommendations for offshore wind would allow "harassment" or the deaths of up 1,000 right whale. This is shocking because there are currently only 340 right whales in existence. This is not corroborated on the NOAA websites, however NOAA does attribute right whale deaths to fishing net entanglements and fishing boat collisions. Unfortunately NOAA declined to attend this Hearing.


Worcester County Councilman stated, "Last year roughly 30 dead whales including the critically endangered right whale and dolphins washed up on the Mid-Atlantic shore. We suspect the geotechnical testing is responsible for this unprecedented destruction of these highly intelligent mammals and we are concerned with the effect of the introduction of a continuous electromagnetic field that the cabling on the ocean floor would have on all marine life in the future."


Horseshoe Crabs

Not only would the bay floor be disrupted in a 1,000 foot wide corridor to bring high voltage electricity cables ashore, potentially digging up burrowed horseshoe crabs, but these high voltage cables would emit EMF energy. Horseshoe crabs and many marine animals rely on EMF for navigational and migration purposes. Most of the earth's naturally occurring EMF lines are oriented in a north-south pattern, but he US Wind electricity cables would be oriented in a east-west direction, thereby potentially confusing the ancient horseshoe crabs sense of direction. To date there has been not one study on how EMF would affect horseshow crabs.

"Our fishing industry would cease to exist if EMF around the turbines and the cabling disrupt the migratory patterns of the sea life." WCC Metrecic told the audience.



Coast Guard Search and Rescue

The experts testified that there would be an impact to the US Coast and inhibit it's ability to rescue stranded boats and people with the presence of offshore wind turbines. During typical search and rescue mission, US Coast Guard helicopters often fly below 500 feet in order to search for an "orange blip" of a person in the water. With the presence of offshore wind turbines, their helicopters would not be able to fly at 500 feet, rather at least twice that height, making their ability to visualize swimmers in the ocean almost impossible.


One expert stated that during her conversations with high ranking US Coast Guard officers, they were ordered to remain silent on this topic, that they would be unable to perform coast guard search and rescue, but could only say that "we will do the best we can under the circumstances."


Local MD and DE Commerical Fishermen: Lewis Hubbard, ACSA VP, Stormy Harrington, Kerry Harrington of Tiki Adventures, and OC Marlin Club President, Ryan Freese

Shipping Channels

Also of concern was the experts' testimony that there would be severe interference with marine vessel radar. This would be a serious issue during bad weather conditions. As of now, there no known way to mitigate this radar problem. The UK offered a prize for anyone who could find a solution for this, so far there have been none.


"Our waterways are home to commercial fishing fleets and world renowned sports fishing industry that depends on the ocean's bounty. Our county is home to Assateague island and the resort town of OC which attracts more than 8 million visitors annually" stated WCC Metrecic.


Department of Defense Issues

In addition to ships not being able to utilize their navigational radar around offshore wind turbines, the interference from the wind turbines would also impact the ability to pick up airplanes on radar. Despite the fact that the Under Secretary of Defense reported that offshore wind turbines would interfere with radar off the US coast, BOEN failed to take this into account when issuing permits for offshore wind turbines. The recommendation from the DOD air traffic controllers was for planes to turn on their transponders as the only way to be visualized on radar. As per one expert, the "Coast Guard and the Pentagon were told to stay quiet" on this issue.

And since the sound from the wind turbines is a similar frequency to that made by underwater vessels, the US coastal defense systems would also not be able to detect submarines off our coast, as their signature sound would be masked by the sounds of the wind turbines. "Our military will be blind" said Congressman Van Drew.


And if this was not already bad enough, the offshore wind turbines interference with radar and other detections systems would also impair the tsunami alert system.


"The more you lookin into them, the more dangerous they become" said Van Drew. "All in the name of green energy."



Exorbitant Cost of Offshore Wind

If you listen to US Wind, their representative will tell you that there will be a savings in your electricity bill, of up to $9, per year. And this grand amount is the marketing pitch from US Wind. At the Hearing, attendees heard a different figure. As per Pat Schrawder, Maryland Power Act, the price tag of bringing offshore wind to Maryland would "cost each household $25,000 over 20 years. $63 billion in capitol costs and ongoing $1 billion annually to maintain for a total $80 billion." Schrawder recommended that instead of taxpayers required to pay 30% of the construction costs of the offshore wind turbines, that wind turbines should be put the test of the free market. "This cost will effect the low income folks the hardest", said Schrawder. "Germany and California chose intermittent over reliable energy which costs 3 times as much."


NJ Congressman Chris Smith stated that without taxpayer subsidies, from Biden administration and NJ Governor Murphy, offshore wind industry is unsustainable. Also, "half of the offshore turbines would topple in over a Category 3 hurricane. European waters don't have storms like N'Easters and hurricanes." Rep. Chris Smith also referenced a recent Wall Street Journal article, The Multi-Billion Dollar Clean Energy Bet Gone Wrong.


Bonnie Brady added that the turbines would be decommissioned in 20 years, without a bond plan to decommission them, again, the US taxpayers would be left to foot the bill for their removal.


"Bottom line this is not ready for prime time. Educate yourselves so you can educate your neighbors because your not hearing this information from the entities, these foreign owned corporations who are just here to make money off of US taxpayers and electric grid payers and they're not telling the whole truth. Keep up the fight, I'll do what needs to be done in Washington," Congressman Smith told the audience. "US Wind is a wholly owned subsidiary of an Italian company."


Impact on Local Economy and Businesses

This topic was addressed by Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan. "The sunrise over the Atlantic would look like a back drop from Star Wars, that's exactly what it would look like, all you have to do is look at the red notes."

Millville County Councilman, Bob Wisgirda, attends Hearling to learn more about how offshore wind would affects inland towns

"US Wind has yet to do an economic analysis on the effect this project will have on Ocean City, why has this not been done? We only have one industry in Ocean City, and that is tourism. Why would the State or the Federal Government want to unnecessarily jeopardize our future, why would they want to do that? A North Carolina study showed that 55% of the people surveyed would not return if those turbines were visible even if they were offered a discount in their rental. This survey only included those visitors that actually rented ocean front property in NC beaches. It's relevant! Our concerns have been ignored."

"We stand in total opposition to the proposed US Wind project and to the environmental impact statement presented by . The questions far outweigh the answers. What I can assure you is that the town of Ocean City will not back down for our opposition to these projects for our future here in Ocean City. We will not back down! If BOEM comes back with a decision that is favorable [for offshore wind] the town of Ocean City will challenge that decision and we will file suit."


WCC Metrecic agreed stating "Offshore wind energy rely on tax payer subsidies to fund their uncertain start ups. This fragility is becoming increasingly evident as wind energy companies have reevaluated and cancelled plans to consider similar projects to the north due to rising costs. If US Wind lacks the financial wherewithal to cover start up cost, it is unfair to Maryland taxpayers to be made responsible."



CLOSING STATEMENTS


Worcester County Commissioner Joseph Mitrecic

"Since commercial interests began plans to develop the windfarms off the coast of Ocean City, the WCC has staunchly opposed the project. There are too many irreversible catastrophic impacts to sea life, Worcester county citizenry, and local and state economies to greenlight this reckless venture.


NJ Congressman Dr. Van Drew

"It's going to be up to you, you really do make the difference, we showed that by Orsted leaving. Our national security is going to be diminished, our food chain and supply is going to be diminished. We are going to rely on foreign companies for energy, and for food. We're going to hurt our tourism, we're going to destroy our whales, we're going to hurt and destroy our environment. We're going to kill our fishing industry. We're going to increase our taxes and we're going to radically increase our utility rates. And why is it? It's about making lots, and lots of money. The Only thing green about these projects is the green that these multi-national corporations and bigshots are going to put in their pockets. And it's morally wrong." "It's all about globalism and internationalism not Americanism."



38th District Interview with MD Congressman Dr. Andy Harris


Q:What can ordinary citizens do to stop US Wind from coming to Delaware and Maryland, who should citizens contact?

A: At the state level citizens should reach out to their governor. At the federal level of government, the President. President Biden has a big push for offshore wind. What goes unsaid is that, as soon as the administration changes, it is a completely different policy and I have been addressing offshore wind under Obama, Trump and Biden administrations. For example, regarding the affects on horseshoe crabs and their importance in the medical field, under the Trump administration, the Secretary of Health wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Interior saying that they should not go forward with offshore wind until they addressed this issue. As soon as the new Biden administration came in, they totally disregarded that. They prioritize renewable energy over any other consideration and include offshore wind in those priorities.


Q: Are the government agencies who are making the decision to allow offshore wind ignorant to the facts we heard today?

A: We were told these questions are unanswered, such as the underwater sound signature effects of windmills. You would think the DOD would want to answer that before they know whether or not it's going to interfere with the masking of underwater sound signatures, it's incredibly important.


Q: As a US Congressman, what do you intend to do to address these problematic issues of offshore wind industry?

A: I interact with federal agencies, we will bring every one of these concerns up with the agencies that they are not doing what they are supposed to be doing under the law and to make their decision on what the law actually says. But you may have to go to court on all of this.


Thank you, 38th District Reporter and Photographer!



-End-




What Can Delaware Concerned Citizens Do To Stop US Wind?


  1. Call all voters who reside in Bethany Beach and South Bethany to inform them of the pro-turbine contract that the mayors and the beach town council members are contemplating accepting.

  2. Email the Bethany Beach and South Bethany Mayors. See emails here.

  3. Dave Stevenson from Caesar Rodney Institute, has requested that anyone who is interested in co-signing a Public Comments on US Wind document, we will collect and submit names with your home town, at the 38th Club meeting on Monday. This is a vital part of the process to be able to move forward with a lawsuit against the installation of offshore wind turbines. You can read the document here.

  4. Plan to attend the next meeting of the 38th District Republican Club with featured speaker, Caesar Rodney Institute Director, David Stevenson, Monday, February 26th, South Coastal Library, Bethany Beach 6:30pm. Topic: US Wind offshore Wind Farm.

  5. Town Hall Meeting on Offshore Wind with Senator Hocker and Representative Ron Gray, February 29th, time and location TBD.



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This newsletter is intended for informational purposes only. The content provided is for general information and entertainment purposes, and should not be construed as professional advice. The views and opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Club. Readers are encouraged to seek professional guidance or conduct their own research when making decisions based on the information provided in this newsletter. The Club does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information presented in this newsletter and will not be held liable for any errors or omissions.

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