CRI News

Offshore wind too ugly for the Hamptons but OK for other beach resorts?
By David T. Stevenson
Director Center for Energy & Environmental Policy
May 4, 2021
(Photo source:  Vanity Fair and CRI's creative)
Officials in New York and the Federal Government determined that the proposed offshore wind turbine lease area off the Hamptons is too close and ruins the serene ocean viewshed. They also noted it is a threat to navigation, fishing, and endangered marine mammals. 
The Fairway lease areas sit as close as 12 miles off the Long Island coast near the Hamptons.
In official comments to the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) submitted July 30, 2018, New York suggested the wind turbines be no closer than 20 miles from shore. This recommendation was based upon an earlier study by BOEM that concluded that 600-foot-high turbines produced a "dominate impact "on the beach view 15 miles offshore.
Adjusting for the new 50% taller turbines, the suggested distance from the shore should be 30 miles. In Europe, the closest lease area for these jumbo turbines is 44 miles out. 
The New York decision begs the question of why lease areas from Maryland to Massachusetts aren't being rejected on the same merits. 
There are four proposed lease areas within 20 miles of the islands of Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, and Block Island. Another four lease areas are off southern New Jersey, Delaware, and Ocean City, Maryland, which range between 10 and 13 miles off major beach resorts. 
Yet BOEM is about to approve the "Vineyard Wind" project just 14 miles from shore, establishing a precedent likely to influence federal decisions on all the other projects.
Visibility is a small part of New York's concerns. The State's extensive outreach revealed proposed lease areas posed a great concern to a high number of commercial and for-hire fishermen. 
The passage around or between wind farms could pose a safety risk for vessels attempting to maintain a course heading and could increase vessel costs, especially for the fishing industry facing daily hazards and a potential loss of fishing gear. 
The BOEM Final Environmental Impact Statement for the "Vineyard Wind" project concluded that the leases would have a major impact on Coast Guard Search and Rescue Operations.
They also determined a major negative impact on scientific studies used to determine the annual fishing limits for various species. Both impacts relate to the need to fly higher to find people in need of rescue and to make fish counts.
There are other potential environmental impacts. 
There are only 356 endangered Northern Right Whales left, and they regularly visit many of the proposed lease areas. Recent accidental deaths were caused by vessel strikes, entanglements, and ocean noise, all of which will be worsened by offshore wind projects.
Horseshoe crab blood is the only known substance for testing antigens in vaccine development. The COVID-19 vaccine could not have been developed without it. The blood is harvested, and the crabs are returned to the sea. The crabs burrow into the sandy seafloor to hibernate for the winter, primarily in a federal reserve off the New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland coast.
Offshore wind projects, with acres of cement and rocks to prevent sand scouring, would land on top of the reserve, and electric cables and turbines will create noise and electromagnetic fields with an unknown impact on the crabs. The crab's eggs are critical food for migrating birds like the endangered Red Knot.
The problems discussed above are common to the eight lease areas located too close to shore. 
The Hamptons have some of the most expensive beachfront home values in the country. Many of those homes are owned by wealthy Manhattanites. One can only wonder how much influence these wealthy folks had on the decision to shut down the Fairways lease areas.
What's good enough for New Yorkers should be good enough for the rest of the East Coast.


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