Friday, May 11, 2018

NJ asks feds to extend offshore-wind comment period

Governor asks feds for six-month extension to assess impact of offshore wind farms on state’s main fishing grounds

Tom Johnson reports
for NJ Spotlight:

Gov. Phil Murphy is asking the federal government to extend the public comment period on proposed new lease sales for offshore wind in the New York Bight, a step that could delay the process for up to six months.
In a letter to Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior, the governor requested more time (180 days) because the areas in New York under consideration for wind-energy development include New Jersey’s main fishing grounds, including two that are closest to its coast.
The request, if granted, could slow recent steps taken by both states to expedite building offshore wind farms in waters near New York and New Jersey. All along the Eastern Seaboard, states are bidding to lure developers to build large wind farms off their coasts, a process that is becoming increasingly competitive.
New Jersey needs more time to adequately respond to the proposed lease sale, and more than a dozen issues raised by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in seeking comment from stakeholders, Murphy noted in his letter. New Jersey stakeholders have not yet been meaningfully involved in the process, including the state’s large and valuable commercial fishing industry.

Productive coexistence

“While New Jersey believes that wind energy and the fishing industry can coexist productively, it is critical that potential conflicts from these multiple uses be identified and planned for early in the process,’’ Murphy’s letter said.
In the letter, the governor cited his strong support for offshore wind, including setting a goal of 3,500 megawatts of capacity for the state by 2030. “We look forward to working cooperatively with BOEM and our New York neighbors to achieve this ambitious goal,’’ Murphy said.

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