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Representing Long Beach Island Municipalities, Pashman Stein Walder Hayden P.C. Files Comment Letter to NJDEP on Proposed Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind Project


HACKENSACK, New Jersey (June 30, 2023) – Pashman Stein Walder Hayden P.C. has filed a comment letter today with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) on the pending application by Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind, LLC (Atlantic Shores) for a federal consistency certification that its proposed offshore wind project off of Long Beach Island is consistent with New Jersey’s coastal policies. The comment letter was filed on behalf of Long Beach Township, Beach Haven, Ship Bottom, Barnegat Light, Surf City, and Harvey Cedars (the “LBI Municipalities”), representing all of the municipalities located on Long Beach Island.

Pashman Stein Chair and Managing Partner Michael S. Stein and Partner Frank Huttle represent the LBI Municipalities. Huttle stated, “The comment letter explains that the project as proposed does not comply with NJDEP’s coastal zone management regulations, and that NJDEP must thus deny the Atlantic Shores’ request and should encourage the applicant to seek approval of a project in a designated lease area further offshore that would have far fewer impacts on the state’s coastal resources and economy.”

Stein added, “While the LBI Municipalities are proponents of alternative energy and wind power, the facts of the Atlantic Shores project clearly show a misguided and rushed process that lacks a full evaluation of the detrimental impact on the environment and the economy. As the comment letter states, the Atlantic Shores project directly conflicts with New Jersey’s coastal policies and requires additional studies based on current data.”

Long Beach Township Mayor Joseph H. Mancini said, “The LBI Municipalities recognize the need to transition to clean energy resources, and to mitigate climate change and support the development of offshore wind. But the impact of this specific project must be stopped. It is the largest project of its kind, the closest to the shoreline in the United States, and it will destroy the coastal resources and economy of the LBI Municipalities. As leaders within our municipalities, we are choosing to speak as one voice through the comment letter, on behalf of all of our residents, visitors and businesses, whether they are year-round or seasonal; they all deserve to be heard as we work together to raise awareness of the problems inherent in the Atlantic Shores project.”

Huttle added, “This is why the Long Beach Island municipalities have joined together, with one voice to protect their diverse year-round businesses and residential communities which, along with being a pristine stretch of beaches, are also a hub for tourism and commercial fishing, with protected sand dunes, natural refuges for birds on the south of the island, and a historic state park to the north.” 

Mancini continued, “The LBI Municipalities are skeptical of NJDEP’s willingness to take these comments seriously given the direction it has been given by Governor Murphy to approve offshore wind projects and public comments by NJDEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette refusing to consider any connection between whale deaths and offshore wind projects, despite NJDEP’s charge to protect the state’s coastal resources. The LBI Municipalities intend to take all available actions, including pursuing an adjudicatory hearing to have Atlantic Shores’ application considered by a neutral administrative law judge and pursuing other judicial review, to protect LBI for generations to come.”

The reasons explained in the letter, attached, are that:

  • The Atlantic Shores project would be the closest, large-scale project in the country with 200 windmills each over 1000 feet tall (approximately the height of the Eiffel tower), as close as 8.7 miles to shore. Both Atlantic Shores’ application and the federal government’s analysis in a draft Environmental Impact Statement show this will have a significant adverse visual impact and will “occupy most of the visual field” from the beach and transform ocean vistas on LBI from “formerly undeveloped ocean to dominant wind farm character,” in violation of NJDEP rules protecting scenic resources. Click here to view a photo simulation included in the draft Environmental Impact Statement published by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
  • Studies also show that the closer to shore turbines are located, the more it drives tourists away from that shore area. One study showed that up to 43% of beachgoers would switch beaches to avoid turbines too close to shore, while another showed that 55% of existing customers would not re-rent their most recent vacation property if wind turbines were placed offshore. These negative economic impacts decrease once turbines are moved more than 15 miles offshore. There is an open lease area 30 miles offshore that would eliminate these visual impacts.
  • As a seasonal shore economy, LBI is heavily dependent on tourism and would suffer staggering losses from the Atlantic Shores project in its current proposed location.
  • The project will also have significant negative impacts on LBI’s commercial and recreational fishing industries by causing reduced catches and impeding fishing vessel traffic, in violation of NJDEP regulations protecting fish, shellfish, and marine fisheries.
  • The project will have an adverse impact on whales, especially the critically endangered North American Right Whale (NARW), with fewer than 350 remaining. The NARW has been experiencing an unusual mortality event, washing up in alarming numbers, which coincides with offshore windmill exploration. The whales are highly sensitive to underwater sound and the windmills and their construction could block their migration. Increased vessel traffic could also increase mortality. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management found the cumulative impact of this project would have a moderate to major negative impact on the right whale.
  • The project would also have a negative impact on birds, in violation of NJDEP rules protecting critical wildlife habitat. The endangered piping plover, among other bird species, cross the project area as part of its migration. Studies show that wind turbines can cause significant mortality events for birds, especially when there are numerous projects in a close area. That would be the case here, with the Atlantic Shores project directly next to the Ocean Wind 1 project.
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