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Misinformation makes it tough on wind farm projects in New York

Misinformation about the effects of offshore wind turbines on marine life could derail offshore wind farm projects in New York and New Jersey.

The issue stems from a string of whale deaths in both states over the last two months. Experts have not found a link between offshore wind turbines and harm to whales, but misinformation has continued to spread.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

More than 165 New York elected officials signed a letter from Elected Officials to Protect America in support of offshore wind.

William Reinhardt, a member of the Albany County Legislature, noted there have been concerns about the development of a manufacturing facility at the Port of Albany. He feels any environmental impacts need to be addressed immediately.

“As you develop your wind facilities, whether it’s the port or the facilities themselves out in the ocean, you don’t want to fall into the pattern of the fossil-fuel industry, which is to create an awful lot of pollution, much more than you ever would with wind,” Reinhardt cautioned. “But still you want to follow environmental guidelines, and take care of Mother Nature and all that.”

Reinhardt feels the best way to inform people is to present the science as clearly as possible to ensure people have a better understanding of offshore wind. Currently, New York has 4,300 megawatts of offshore wind farms under development, with a goal of 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind powering the state by 2035.

Meanwhile, in New Jersey, several mayors of towns along the Jersey Shore have called for a moratorium on offshore wind.

Caren Fitzpatrick, an Atlantic County commissioner, believes a majority accept offshore wind, but noted a loud minority is eager to change it. Fitzpatrick thinks the debate has become an allegory for the country’s current divisiveness.

“We are so divided and so tribal that a lot of people will not listen to another point of view or another perception, even when it is substantiated by hard facts,” Fitzpatrick observed.

She added in order to cut through the shouting of the minority, there should be town hall meetings and other information sessions with people who are more knowledgeable about offshore wind. Fitzpatrick hopes it will help people see the real benefits to offshore wind and dispel any lies about the projects.