Cindy Parker-Pekarik of the Defend Brigantine Beach Board of Trustees was among the people protesting the offshore wind development outside a public hearing Thursday in Wildwood hosted by Republican Reps. Jeff Van Drew and Chris Smith. She said she believes there is a link between the offshore wind research and the recent wave of dead whales washing up on the Jersey Shore.

Aaron Rice, chief ecologist at Cornell University’s K. Lisa Young Center for Conservation Bioacoustics, studies how whales and fish perceive sound. Rice, who did not testify at the hearing, said that “based on the best available data that we have, the likelihood of any offshore wind impact on the whales is extremely low.”

During the hearings, Smith and Van Drew urged Congress to investigate any possible link between offshore wind activity and whale strandings.

“I think there’s a lot of evidence that they’re harmed, and this idea that the governor and others are saying ‘there’s no evidence,’ there’s a groupthink among scientists that I think is appalling,” Smith said. .

Not everyone in Wildwood was of the same opinion. Ed Potasnak, executive director of the League of Conservation Voters, said, “The people who really support this false narrative are funded by the fossil fuel industry.”

In response to our request for comment, Ørsted, which owns the rights to the wind farm, sent the following statement: “Since 2019, our Ocean Wind 1 project has been undergoing a full and thorough federal review… BOEM’s (Bureau of Ocean Energy Management) 1,408-page draft statement on Environmental Impacts Ocean Wind 1 includes 1,200 references from sources such as the US Coast Guard, the US Navy, and Cape May County, in addition to peer-reviewed peer-reviewed articles, making it the most thoroughly researched and easily accessible document for public review.”

Editor’s note: Oersted is an underwriter for NJ Spotlight News.

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