Conservative watchdog groups ran a guerrilla-style ad campaign on the New Jersey shore for Earth Day, drawing attention to a surge in whale deaths amid the growth of offshore wind farms.
Beachgoers in Atlantic City on Saturday looked on as a single-propeller plane carried a a message waving from a banner — “SAVE-WHALES-STOP-WINDMILLS.ORG” — and drivers heading out of town saw a billboard with the same message and a picture of a dead whale washed ashore.
The Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow and the Heartland Institute sponsored the ads to highlight the potential threat wind turbine development poses to whales, dolphins and other aquatic life.
The campaign comes after a ProPublica report last week found federal regulators in the Biden administration have downplayed environmental risks to greenlight “an unprecedented expansion for offshore wind” projects — including tax incentives through the president’s Inflation Reduction Act for renewable energy developers.
Steve Milloy, a senior fellow at the Energy and Environment Legal Institute who sits on Heartland’s board of directors, told The Post the ad campaign reveals how “Orwellian” government action on the environment has become.
“As the Biden administration is literally permitting the offshore wind industry to kill endangered whales under the guise of ‘saving the planet,’ Earth Day has gone 180 degrees from where it started and has become truly Orwellian,” Milloy said.
“It’s gone from ‘Save the Whales’ to ‘Kill the Whales.’ And the green groups that have promoted Earth Day for 53 years are totally okay with this agenda.”
Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow president Craig Rucker said the push to build the wind farms comes “despite growing evidence that whales are being impacted by the preliminary sonar blasting being conducted to site windmills, as well as scores of the marine mammals washing up dead on beaches.”
“‘’Damn the whales, full speed ahead’ seems to be the official policy of the Biden administration when it comes to the construction of offshore wind,” Rucker said in a statement. “The White House seems to remain unfazed and fixated on implementing its reckless ‘net zero’ energy agenda.”
“Let’s hope some court steps in to, at a minimum, place an injunction against any continued offshore wind energy development until proper environmental studies can be conducted,” he added.
The noise produced from building the farms, especially pile-driving the turbines into the ocean floor, has been shown to affect aquatic life, according to federal regulators, who implemented a “soft start” approach before construction to drive away species.
The ProPublica report states in the next 10 years, more than 3,000 turbines will be built and nearly 10,000 miles of cable will be laid on 2.4 million acres of the ocean managed by the federal government.
The construction would involve scores of ships traveling at high speeds and criss-crossing known whale habitats, increasing the chances of marine mammals being fatally struck.
Developers like Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind, which has been approved to start wind farms off the coast of New York and New Jersey, receive special authorization from the National Marine Fisheries Service to potentially injure or kill the whales as long as mitigation protocols and reporting procedures are followed.
Activists in recent months have noted an “alarming” uptick in dead whales floating onto beaches in the New York-New Jersey area, with at least nine occurring between last December and February.
The two-month hike was apparently the highest in 50 years, according to Clean Ocean Action.
“This alarming number of deaths is unprecedented in the last half century, the only unique factor from previous years, is the excessive scope, scale, and magnitude of offshore wind powerplant activity in the region,” the environmental conservation group said in a statement.
But federal regulators have disputed the inherent risks to whale populations, emphasizing safeguards such as “lookouts” and acoustic monitoring systems to detect whales before striking them, according to a federal lawsuit Nantucket residents filed against a government-approved wind farm off the Massachusetts coast.
The Commerce Department’s National Marine Fisheries Service and the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management regulate development in federal waters.
Lauren Gaches, public affairs director at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries, which oversees the National Marine Fisheries Service, said in January “to date, no whale mortality has been attributed to offshore wind activities.”