The Dangers Of "Big Wind"

Val Oliver •

To the editor: The public is being misled by greedy environmental organizations and the sad irony is, it is the environment itself that will be negatively impacted as a result. The North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium’s latest population estimates for the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale show that just 356 individuals remain on the planet today. The New England Aquarium, a member of the Consortium, cites vessel strikes and fishing-gear entanglements as the leading causes of mortality.

“Until we implement strategies that eliminate injuries and deaths, and promote right whale health, this species will continue to struggle,” warns Scott Kraus, chair of the Consortium and a New England Aquarium scientist. We can all agree that the future of the right whale is bleak. Yet, shockingly, there is nary a mention from any of the expert environmental organizations/scientists in the NARW Consortium about the negative impacts from “Big Wind” survey work and the power plants that are now under construction, right smack in the middle of the North Atlantic right whale’s safe haven…directly off Nantucket’s coast.

The New England Aquarium and its scientists should be forced to publicly disclose the funding they’ve accepted from the Offshore Wind Industry. In fact, many of the organizations comprising the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium are recipients of "Big Wind" money, and have therefore forfeited their independence. How can their opinions on whale deaths be untainted when “Big Wind” is helping to pay their bills? How can they ignore the “elephant in the room”…the power plants being constructed in the middle of the endangered North Atlantic right whale’s habitat?

These organizations know better and know that whales play an incredibly important role in our ecosystem that ranges from providing nutrients for the basis of the food chain, to naturally reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For a listing of just some of the organizations who have taken money from Big Wind, here is a Conflict-of-Interest Report, published by a different coalition, the “Save the Right Whales Coalition.” This report shines a spotlight on just some of the many compromised organizations who have taken money from Big Wind:

The public also needs to know that Offshore Wind developers have applied for and been granted permits from NOAA that allow, and indemnify them against, the harassment of hundreds of thousands of marine animals, including the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale. These “passes” are sought after and granted because there is an expectation that marine life will suffer as a result of the survey work, construction, operations and decommissioning of these large-scale offshore wind power plants. How is it possible that the loud and intrusive survey work for, and construction of, offshore wind turbines are not even mentioned in the NARW Consortium’s report? Contrary to claims by many environmental organizations, there is, in fact, a direct correlation between Offshore Wind survey work and whale deaths beginning in 2016. It is shameful and irresponsible for this data to be ignored. View “Thrown to the Wind” by clicking here.

Our government agencies and too many of these environmental organizations who have taken money from “Big Wind” seem duplicitous expressing their “grave concern” for the critically endangered North Atlantic Right Whale, while at the same time ignoring the evidence before their very eyes. Shame on all of them for greedily supporting Big Wind as it forges forward on a path of environmental decimation and forces the likely extinction of endangered species such as the North Atlantic right whale. Shame on them for touting offshore wind as the panacea for climate change when the data provided by our own U.S. government simply does not support that claim.

There are tradeoffs developing and deploying all energy sources, and the environmental impacts from Big Wind are severe. I, and a rapidly growing number of Nantucket residents, believe that we all need to work together and push back against these projects, as they will be detrimental to Nantucket too. Our island is one of the nation’s oldest and largest National Historic Landmarks and is designated as such by our long relationship with what is sadly the critically endangered North Atlantic Right Whale. We all must recognize that Nantucket remains beautiful, preserved and economically healthy, because of the Islands’ Federal landmark status secured by our whaling history and protected environment.

The addition of Big Wind power plants off our south shores puts that designation in jeopardy as those waters will be forever changed. Please join me in asking our Select Board, Maria Mitchell Association and the Nantucket Preservation Trust to break the “Vineyard Wind Good Neighbor Agreement” that was shockingly signed behind closed doors and gave away our island for money. It’s time our friends and neighbors have an opportunity to weigh in on Nantucket’s destiny. Please understand that only the first Vineyard Wind project is under construction…there are many more to come.

It is most certainly NOT too late for Nantucket.


Val Oliver 
President, ACK for Whales

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