Offshore wind (whale) impact probe proposed


New Jersey Congressman Chris Smith is outraged by the ever growing whale death toll, that coincides with rapidly increasing offshore wind development. He has introduced a much needed bill calling for an investigation of the impact assessment practices of those federal agencies that approve and oversee OSW.

His bill — HR 1056 — is here.

Smith’s Bill is short but sweeping. It requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO)—commonly known as the congressional watchdog—to investigate the sufficiency of the federal environmental review process for “offshore wind projects, including the impacts on whales, other marine mammals, commercial and recreational fishing, air quality and greenhouse gas emissions, vessel traffic, tourism, and the sustainability of shoreline beaches and inlets.”

Smith’s press release puts it this way: “As part of a full-court press for answers, my legislation will investigate the level of transparency from federal agencies that green-lighted this aggressive offshore wind development and determine how much scrutiny was implemented in reviewing the environmental and maritime safety of this project, especially given its unprecedented size and scale.”

In the crosshairs are the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which does the environmental impact assessments, and NOAA Fisheries which is supposed to protect the whales and other sea critters.

I have already reported on at least three glaring impact assessment procedural gaps in prior articles, as follows. Hopefully GAO will flag them.

First, BOEM failed to conduct an environmental impact assessment for the OSW leasing program, or for any of the many specific leases it granted. Extensive development activity was certain to occur, especially the sonar site surveying now implicated in the mounting whale deaths.


Second, NOAA Fisheries failed to conduct environmental impact assessments when it approved massive and potentially deadly harassment of huge numbers of whales and other marine mammals. Each sonar survey and construction approval actually estimates the number of critters in each species that is likely to be adversely effected. What the likely impact of these effects, especially panic, stress and/or deafness, might be has never been assessed.



Third, BOEM’s environmental impact assessments of these huge OSW projects to date are incredibly inadequate. For example they consistently fail to address the impact of operational noise. Nor is there any consideration of the cumulative impact of the thousands of monster wind turbines now in the approval pipeline.


The assessment requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act are based on what is “reasonably likely”. If an agency action is reasonably likely to have an environmental impact then that impact must be assessed. The impacts to be assessed are those that are reasonably likely to occur. It is a two step standard.

It is obvious that leasing an area for offshore wind development is reasonably likely to lead to such development, which certainly has reasonably likely environmental impacts. So assessment of those impacts should have been done prior to leasing.

It is likewise obvious that authorizing the noise harassment of thousands of whales and other marine mammals is reasonably likely to adversely affect them, so those effects should be assessed prior to authorization. This is true for sonar survey noise, construction noise (especially pile driving) and operational noise.

Moreover, NEPA is clear that when multiple agency actions are contemplated, as part of an overall program like offshore wind development, the cumulative impact of these actions must also be assessed. For example, last year NOAA Fisheries issued 12 separate authorizations for harassment of large numbers of whales and other marine mammals.

GAO is normally scrupulously apolitical when it comes to investigating or evaluating agency programs. The study Smith is proposing is desperately needed, so here’s hoping his bill becomes law.

Stay tuned to CFACT as this story unfolds.


David Wojick

David Wojick, Ph.D. is an independent analyst working at the intersection of science, technology and policy. For origins see For over 100 prior articles for CFACT see Available for confidential research and consulting.

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February 20, 2023 10:38 pm

What a contradiction for the Greenies to confront. Support windmills while sacrificing whales? Or vice versa? Either way, dissension within the Greenies’ ranks! Great, knowing that either decision will prove their previous lies!

Dave Fair
Reply to  mikelowe2013
February 20, 2023 10:49 pm

Its fascinating that Greenpeace no longer seeks to protect whales, especially the endangered Atlantic Right Whale. None of the greenie NGOs seem curious as to the environmental impact of massive industrial development for offshore wind.

Reply to  Dave Fair
February 20, 2023 11:40 pm

Most likely here isn’t enough money in it and besides, there is a world government to empower. Nothing must impede that

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Dave Fair
February 21, 2023 9:27 am

Greenpeace only seeks to protect it’s own life and has done so for a very long time.

Richard Greene
Reply to  mikelowe2013
February 21, 2023 1:39 am

Don’t forget the bird and bat shredding.
“Boids” in Brooklyn USA.

William Howard
Reply to  Richard Greene
February 21, 2023 8:05 am

Condor cuisinarts – including eagles which should produce a prison sentence – remember Obama sued an oil company when a migratory bird landed in a disposal pond – but kill thousand of eagles, a protected bird – no problem – it’s all for the greater good

David Wojick
Reply to  William Howard
February 21, 2023 8:09 am

The eagle kills are authorized, site by site, by FWS just as whale harassment is authorized by NOAA Fisheries. But if there were just 340 eagles left, as with right whales, it would be a different matter.

February 20, 2023 11:37 pm

There are at least four steps such a bill has to pass, possibly more. Passing any of them seems unlikely in the current political world. The last is Biden signing it, which seems the most unlikely of all to happen.

Last edited 1 month ago by AndyHce
David Wojick
Reply to  AndyHce
February 21, 2023 1:54 am

True but this raises the issue to a new level, while making no specific claims, it just calls for a study. It could get attached to a must pass budget bill.

Ron Long
Reply to  David Wojick
February 21, 2023 2:03 am

The other issue is how tortured is the path to the Supremes reviewing the issue, maybe under the “Equal Treatment” clause of the Constitution?

February 21, 2023 12:11 am

Killing wildlife is the hallmark of wind and solar. And it gets a free pass every time

Reply to  strativarius
February 21, 2023 3:05 am

..and destroying countless hectares of trees and wildlife habitat for onshore useless wind and solar.

Even prior to the insatiable demonizing of coal and gas, it took years to get any new FF project approved. But it seems for any useless unreliables project or huge installations of wind and solar “farms”, these builds are rubber stamped. Apparently the “environment” is simply acceptable collateral damage in the name of “climate.”

Richard Greene
February 21, 2023 1:36 am

Author David Wojick was very interested in this issue and stuck with it as other writers eventually caught on. The claimed environmentalists do not seem to care. Wojick is the go to author on whales, in my opinion, and every one of his concise articles on the subject at CFACT has been worth reading, And also recommended on my blog.

Good writers who know what they are writing about make a blog editor’s job easy. Wojick is one of them: Honest Climate Science and Energy

Last edited 27 days ago by Richard Greene
David Wojick
Reply to  Richard Greene
February 21, 2023 6:21 am

Thanks Richard, much appreciated. Wind vs whales is a fascinating issue that well might get to the Supreme Court. Most of my articles on it are research reports and I am still digging. Getting dark down here.

Ron Long
February 21, 2023 2:11 am

When I read the three issues with permitting the windmills, especially how inadequate is the environmental impact, I can’t help but compare it to the permitting process for a single drill site on BLM administered lands in Nevada, during a Democrat Administration. They diligently (even fanatically) search for any fragment of indigenous material, like an obsidian chip possibly from making an arrowhead, and then declare the area off limits. When a Republican Administration is in place there is a slow return to conduct as outlined in laws, suggesting that various Federal Agencies are staffed (infested?) by liberals with an agenda.

David Wojick
Reply to  Ron Long
February 21, 2023 4:01 am

I think NOAA Fisheries is being rolled in this case. They want to protect the whales but are told OSW is off limits. Their endangered species branch chief wrote a memo warning about OSW threats and he is now on extended leave.

Reply to  David Wojick
February 21, 2023 5:17 am

Never to be heard of again…..

February 21, 2023 3:41 am

Them thar turbines is messing with the wind everywhere-
Freak low tides leave famous canals of Venice looking like ditches thanks to anticyclone wind system | Daily Mail Online

You can’t make this stuff up doomsters. LOL.

Right-Handed Shark
Reply to  observa
February 21, 2023 3:45 am

But this is what they have always predicted, that sea levels will rise to their lowest levels ever. Or something.

Barnes Moore
February 21, 2023 5:17 am

Question. My guess is that when an off-shore oil platform is permitted, it must go through all kinds of regulatory hurdles, environmental impact studies, etc. Also, when they are being sited and built, are many of the same construction methods used as for constructing wind turbines? Both are massive structures and it seems that both would have similar environmental impact during the construction process, or am I missing something? The main difference is that oil platforms actually produce a useful product whereas wind turbines, not so much.

David Wojick
Reply to  Barnes Moore
February 21, 2023 6:31 am

The foundations are very different. In order to hold the huge wind tower, turbine and blades steady in hurricane force winds the tower is attached to an enormous monopile. The biggest to date is 30′ in dia and 400′ long and this monster has to be driven into the sea floor. The pile driving noise is incredible.

Plus our proposed wind turbines and towers are much bigger than anything built to date. The biggest deployed OSW turbines are 9.5 MW while our projects are specifying 13-15 MW, which are just in prototype testing. No idea what the monopiles will be like.

This is why so-called floating towers are all the rage, with over 50 experimental designs proposed to date. No noisy monopiles.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Barnes Moore
February 21, 2023 12:56 pm

Mr. Layman here.
Both oil and wind things are machinery.
Machines produce vibrations with wind producing sonic vibrations in the air.
What vibrations are produced and transferred to the water and at what frequencies?
Oil rigs have been around for a long time with no whale incidents.
Might wind turbine frequencies interfere with whales and other sea critters that use echolocation?
I don’t know but the coincidence seems worth looking into.
(Without giving wind a pass just because it’s “Green” like they’ve given to birds and bats they’ve killed on land.)
Just a layman’s perspective.

David Wojick
Reply to  Gunga Din
February 21, 2023 3:26 pm

There is a good bit on operational noise here:

There might be noise issue with oil platforms as well, but they are tiny compared to these wind arrays. Virginia phase one is 150 sq miles, phase two adds another 150. Going around these huge islands puts the whales into heavy shipping traffic.

Also do oil rigs make a lot of noise when sitting there pumping? The wind machines are very loud. There are noise issues with land turbines which are tiny (2 MW) compared to these OSW monsters (13-15 MW).

Gunga Din
Reply to  David Wojick
February 23, 2023 1:02 pm

In one ear I have some hearing loss in the high frequency range. Everything else is relatively “normal” for my age. (My job required annual hearing test.)
I’m wondering about comparing sound frequencies that might confuse whales.
(Of course the volume of those frequencies would also be important if ‘loud” enough to cause hearing loss.)

Last edited 25 days ago by Gunga Din
February 21, 2023 7:27 am

Could bird viruses from shredded birds in offshore wind farms get into the marine food chain and whales? Somebody wake up CDC, NOAA, the Coast Guard, and USDA before it’s too late.

February 21, 2023 1:51 pm

A study? The science is settled, the whales are dying and we only have 6 weeks to fix this before the reproductive negative feedback loops make them extinct. Our children and grandchildren deserve a world with whales…

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