New Bedford Light readers reacted strongly to our investigation into offshore wind and what impacts it could have on the fishing industry, and to the opinion piece critical of the story.

Here’s what you had to say:

“Wind is renewable but turbines are not. They require massive amounts of fossil fuel to produce and the destruction of massive amounts of habitat. Climate change is a symptom of industrial development. So these machines will only compound the problem. Energy capturing devices kill wildlife and no amount of greenwashing can change that fact. Destroying the planet to save it makes no sense.”

— Carl van Warmerdam

“I’m sorry to say that this is a pretty weak story. There are many people here making dire claims — but I don’t see any evidence. This would be OK if this technology were new, but it most certainly is not. Britain and in particular Denmark, which has a large fishing fleet, has a lengthy offshore wind track record. Instead of just quoting lots of upset people, why not dig up the scientific evidence from those long-extant projects? Tell us what damage these turbines have done in salt water environments there, and then tell us how those projects will compare to what’s projected here. By now you should be presenting us with lots of evidence rather than just sowing the seeds of fear. Additionally, I’d like to know a lot of the data about offshore turbines and birds and bats. I was very surprised to know that there’s lots of evidence of bats out on some of these turbines. What’s going on there? If you’re gonna do a ProPublica thing, you need to dig a couple of layers deeper here.”

— Wendy Williams

“The cod are gone, fished to the point of collapse. The water is warming and lobsters have moved out. Sea level rise threatens our shores and cities. It is either stop burning carbon or render large areas of the planet uninhabitable. Wind turbines offer a path to that goal. We need to do this.”

— William Trimble

“Offshore wind is a boondoggle that will only benefit government fat cats, China and a few investors. It will NEVER produce significant steady reliable electrical power. The power can’t be stored, it will require rapid start/stop backup power to compensate for when the wind does not blow, the equipment has an at best 10-15 year working life cycle and can’t be recycled effectively. The impacts on the biosphere near it (air currents and temperatures, ocean currents and temperatures, sediments, nutrients, electromagnetic fields near turbines and cables, bottom ecosystem damage, etc) will be immense to $500+ million fisheries. Also it requires rare earth minerals that are NOT sustainably and fairly harvested.”

 — Andy Carr

“The original article by Anastasia Lennon and Will Sennott revealed an important collusion between BOEM and foreign energy developers. Mr. Bullard’s comparison of large, foreign energy developers being allowed to ‘self regulate’ by a revolving door of personnel between regulators and industry to the much smaller operators in the existing domestic fishing industry is erroneous and off topic. He noted that many in the fishing industry can benefit from wind industry incentives and some already are. This merely underscores the point that large foreign developers will pay off anyone they can to secure the large annuity payments that will be the result of the offshore wind power plants. There is a lot of money to go around. It is lining the pockets of countless politicians and NGOs. I suggest that Mr. Bullard read the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for SouthCoast Wind. Finally, BOEM is acknowledging that the economic and environmental harms from the cumulative set of projects are major and the benefits to climate change are negligible. BOEM ignores dire warnings from lead scientists with the National Marine Fisheries Service and commits to ‘learning as we go.’ Mr. Bullard is clearly one of the many who see dollar signs over protecting the environment.”

— Veronica Bonnet

“Thank you for this very informative article. I’ve been a proponent of offshore wind development, but now I’m not so sure. It seems to be heading in the direction of every large energy project in America. I don’t want to see a handful enrich themselves at the expense of a vital fishery. There most certainly has to be a compensation structure for the fishing industry. I’ve seen this before during my visits to Newfoundland in the ’80s. The fishery in Ottawa ignored the pleas of the inshore fishermen that foreign factory ships from Russia and Japan were over harvesting caplin, a small fish that every marine animal depends on. Within a handful of years, the inshore fishery was decimated. We must tread carefully when we do anything in our oceans.”

— Stacy Greenspan

“As former New Bedford mayor and NOAA fisheries regional administrator and current president/offshore wind head cheerleader for the New Bedford Ocean Cluster, John Bullard stands as our own localized version of the cozy relationship between government and industry that results in the almost complete discounting of concerns raised by those whose primary goal is not economic growth. While Mr. Bullard appears to shrug off the regulatory capture of federal and state agencies by the offshore wind industry and its political bedfellows as business as usual, most Americans find this revolving door arrangement repugnant and utterly demoralizing. And so the solution he and Ed Markey propose is paying off the fishing industry for the theft and destruction of centuries-old fishing grounds, and hope the fishers will just go away. Since paying off whales, dolphins and other marine life isn’t an option, better to just clear the area of these pesky creatures. You can be sure that’s part of their ‘solution’ too.”

— Constance Gee

“Hall of fame reporting.”

— Sam Allis

“Remember, everything the Biden administration has promoted has been a total failure! Offshore wind will be paid for by the taxpayers they abandoned in place. It has already happened in Europe. It takes seven years of continuous operation just to reclaim the energy it takes to build one windmill. This will be an environmental disaster. Follow the science!”

— Joe

“$5 billion generated last year from wind site leases with no earmarks or fishery compensation set aside, just lost into the U.S. Treasury directed by the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA). This law needs to be amended to redirect these lost funds back towards the industries that will be affected by these lease sites, like commercial fishing. These funds will allow fishermen to adapt fishing practices, participate in more science, enable them to help with construction or maintenance of the wind infrastructure, or just get out and retire. It’s a lot of money that can do a lot of good and it is currently being wasted. Let’s amend OCSLA and get it back to the people most affected by where it is coming from.”

— Capt. Jarrett Drake

“Massachusetts officially declared April 24 as Right Whale Day to raise awareness. Soon ocean studies begin in Massachusetts. Many speculate that the sonar equipment wind companies use to map the ocean floor could fatally harm the whales. Whale deaths increased in 2016 with the Rhode Island wind farm and follow installations in New Jersey and New York”

— Frank Haggerty

“The fishermen are the worst polluters of our oceans, pumping bilge water full of oil seeping out of mechanical equipment over the side at the end of watch on a daily basis. Most big boats go through 8,000-12,000 gallons of diesel fuel every two-week trip and that exhaust isn’t treated like on a big truck on land, dumping tons of toxins into the air that drift back to the ocean water poisoning marine life itself. Just watch the thick black plumes of smoke coming out of the stacks of boats as they scurry about the dock going to get ice in the morning. And while you’re down on the dock, watch how many pounds of grub and supplies get loaded on the boat and watch how few garbage bags they throw in the dumpster when they return. Where did all the rest of the waste end up? On the bottom of the ocean, cans, bottles, old filters, red buckets, old nets, old wire, tons of paper products and their own excrement. Wind energy will bring jobs to the region and drastically cut emission by producing green electricity. Don’t let the ‘poor them (boat owners)’ blind you to how much the fishing industry polluted their own backyard.”

 — Mary

“Perhaps they are downplaying the effects because they are minimal? European fishing hasn’t collapsed and they’ve been using wind for decades. Compare that to an industry that would uncontrollably rape the environment for a buck! Boats with diesel engines spewing CO 24 hours a day. Ecosystems ravaged from dragging nets, overfishing, and misrecorded catches. This rampant destruction affects all of us. It’s proven that off-sea wind farms create ecosystems that serve as incubators for all levels of sealife. All the detractors are trying to do is create some interference so that they can make another buck off the process!”

 — Veritas

“It is interesting to hear the opinions of people who hate fishermen and the ways fisheries have been managed, but the things they are describing are about 50 years behind us. Fishermen have changed over the years along with the rest of society. We voluntarily go to great lengths to fish cleanly and dispose of our used oil and garbage in environmentally responsible ways. Every port I go to has a used oil collection point where used oil is received and recycled. We are all concerned about plastics and other garbage ruining the ocean. As to the use of diesel fuel: Yes, diesel is by far the best way to power a fishing boat. That’s the first thing you learn when you start working on the water. It is very similar to jet fuel, which remains the best way to power a jet airplane. Perhaps technology will eventually advance to a point where something else is possible, but that day is not here yet. Studies have shown that wild caught seafood has the lowest carbon footprint of any widely available protein source and that is something to celebrate. As to fishermen ‘raping’ the ocean: Every U.S. fishery is now managed to be sustainable. In fisheries where not enough stock assessment data is available to accurately peg what ‘sustainable’ is, the harvest targets are set conservatively low. Is there illegal and unsustainable fishing going on in the world? Yes, but not by U.S. fishermen. The question is: Does our government have the spine to put effective, even military, pressure on countries that ARE raping the ocean? As to the Chicken Little story: It seems to me that trashing our oceans with windmills, their noise pollution, their blade flicker, their 100 mph + blade tip speed, the sonic surveys, the trenching and all the rest of it without taking the time to evaluate the effects, especially with the new floating wind platform technology because climate change is about to reach a ‘tipping point’ is pretty much like the Chicken Little story. If ever there was a threat where we had time to react in a considered and thoughtful way, climate change is it. The absolute worst thing about the Offshore Wind ‘solution’ is the rush.”

— Alan Alward

“Note that the fishing industry has been self-regulating itself until recent implosions not defined by respect but more like greed. Nobody owns the oceans, but for the benefits of resources and governmental borders it has proven a need to be regulated. Remember when they wanted to drill for oil around the coast? It didn’t fly because the destructive potential affected everyone. So now a new player comes out: the offshore wind industry. No matter how many or how large these wind farms are, there is plenty of ocean to go around. These wind farms will protect the seabed where they stand, promoting the sealife cycle. The fishing industry knows this but is locked into fronting the primitive argument involving imaginary money loss. It’s all about livelihoods and money for them. Screw the environment and along with it, society. The fishing will continue after these generators are functioning. The fishing industry needs to evolve, there are many ways to make money and protect the environment.”

— Flotsam Jetsam

“There has been a lot of information on the danger of these turbines. People in New Jersey have organized against them, citing ecological damage already. The people who have pushed through this wind turbine business in New Bedford and the coastal waters here have big business and political agendas and the environment has been ignored, despite the research. This should have begun as a small experimental industry and progressed slowly, rather than the greedy, aggressive maneuver it has become.”

— Sarah Bishop Valentine

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *