I write to comment on the article by Will Sennott and Anastasia Lennon on offshore wind. The article focused on how some people involved in regulating the offshore wind industry have previously served in positions paid for by that industry. This “revolving door” can lead to conflicts which can harm the environment and the fishing industry.

I need to state at the outset that I am a co-founder of the New Bedford Light and very proud of all that it has accomplished in its almost two years of reporting. I am also president of the board of the New Bedford Ocean Cluster, which works to promote commercial fishing, offshore wind, aquaculture and marine technology in the port of New Bedford and surrounding region. Five years ago I retired as the regional administrator of NOAA Fisheries, responsible for managing living marine resources in federal waters from Canada to Cape Hatteras. I served as mayor of New Bedford from 1986-1992. So I have various perspectives on the issues raised in the article, though neither I nor anyone else at the Ocean Cluster was interviewed for this piece. In my job at NOAA, I both regulated and encouraged fishing. We participated in the regulatory process on offshore wind while seeing the need for its development. The job was filled with contradictions.

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I think the reporters made a number of fair points. I have always found it frustrating that BOEM has not paid enough attention to the needs of fishermen nor the comments raised by NOAA, or the City of New Bedford.

I agree that mitigation funds are needed and Sen. Markey’s bill needs to be introduced, passed and signed into law. Vineyard Wind has already committed to establish a $21 million fund, but leasing fees should be used for increasing funding to mitigation as well as increased science necessary to support understanding the impact these turbines will have on the environment as well as the fishing industry and the families the industry supports.

But the story misses some important points. One is that the regulation of fisheries since the creation of the Magnuson Act in 1976 is based on the very conflict that the article criticizes. The councils that regulate fisheries are made up of people largely from the industry. While this system has been criticized by some non-governmental organizations, it is considered the best form of fisheries management in the world because the most knowledgeable people make decisions in a democratic, transparent way to achieve agreed upon national standards. Clearly council members have to guard against specific conflicts of interest, but industry expertise is an asset, not a liability, in fishing. Why not in offshore wind?

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The second omission is that we do not exist in a status quo environment. The waters are warming and acidifying due to our reliance on fossil fuels. This is harming everything that lives in the ocean and we have no time to lose. We need to get off of coal, oil and natural gas and on to clean, renewable energy as soon as we can. We are in a state of emergency as far as our planet goes and we need to act like it.

The New Bedford Ocean Cluster and the City of New Bedford believe that commercial fishing and processing and the offshore wind industry can co-exist here in the Port of New Bedford and out at sea. We believe that can be done if there is mutual respect by each industry toward the other. We believe offshore wind offers many opportunities for the fishing industry to participate and many members of the fishing industry have already seized them. These industries can grow together. That is happening. And that important point was missed in this article.

Editor’s note: The New Bedford Light’s newsroom is scrupulously independent. Only the editors decide what to cover and what to publish. Founders, funders and board members have no influence over editorial content.

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  1. We ARE NOT in a state of emergency, climate change is a grift and a hustle and these windmills WILL NOT solve anything and will damage the fisheries and ecosystems off the east coast.

  2. Look at what wind power is doing offshore in europe, sediment plumes will ruin the open bottom areas for scalloping off new bedford and other states and areas, they kill untold numbers of birds and the buried cables will devastate cod and other fishes habitats. And will not produce consistent power of any significant quantity, have a greater “environmental impact” than comparable sources of energy like gas turbines and will be junk in 15 years and not be recyclable. Also they all consume electricity to keep their lubricating oil from freezing in cold weather.

  3. What technical, scientific or other college degree or training does this John Bullard have?

  4. We need to ask as the original New Bedford Light article on this did what benefits and relationships all these pro wind people have and who benefits from what?

  5. Cited quotation from Powerline Blog,

    Leftists fantasize that before long, we can dispense with all reliable energy sources–coal, natural gas, nuclear, even hydro–and run our society entirely on wind and solar, two forms of energy that have been obsolete for 150 years.

    How can this be, since wind turbines only produce electricity when the wind is blowing sufficiently, which is around 40% of the time, and solar only works when the sun is shining and the panels are not covered in ice and snow–in a northern climate, something like 18% of the time? Obviously the Greenies have a problem. Today, their problem is solved by building natural gas plants that carry the load when wind and solar are AWOL–which is to say, a large majority of the time. Of course, the natural gas plants are dispatchable, which means they can produce energy reliably, at will, 24/7. Which raises the obvious question: if we have to build fully-capable natural gas plants to make wind and solar sort-of work, some of the time, what the heck to we need the wind and solar for?

    The truthful answer to that question has nothing to do with the laws of physics, and everything to do with the laws of money. But the Left has another answer: batteries! It looks forward to the day when batteries will store the output of wind turbines and solar panels and thereby turn unreliable, intermittent energy into electricity that you can count on to turn on your lights when you flip the switch.

    At American Experiment.org, my colleague Isaac Orr demolishes the Green New Deal fantasy. One basic problem is that wind turbines don’t work when the weather gets cold, which can be fatal in the North, especially when we are experiencing a brutal cold snap:

    Temperatures are below zero in many parts of the state, but wind energy is missing in action.

    According to data from the regional grid operator, the wind is providing just 1 percent of the current electricity on the grid, and solar is providing just 0.31 percent. Coal currently accounts for 55 percent of generation, natural gas accounts for 28 percent, and nuclear accounts for 14 percent.

    Not only is wind not producing much electricity, but it is also producing only a small fraction of its potential output. There are 22,000 megawatts (MW) of wind capacity installed on the regional grid, but these wind turbines are only producing 1,055 MW of electricity. In other words, wind turbines are only producing 4.8 percent of their potential output. Temperatures are below zero in many parts of the state, but wind energy is missing in action.

    As Isaac has explained elsewhere, the truth is even worse than that. When it gets cold, not only are wind turbines shut down so they produce no electricity, they also need to be kept warm. So in cold weather, wind turbines are consumers of electricity, not producers of electricity.

    This looks bleak for the Greenies. But their deus ex machina is batteries. The battle may appear lost, but vast (infinite) supplies of lithium batteries will somehow appear to save the day. Where to we go to buy those batteries? Well, they don’t actually exist. But someday they will! Isaac writes:

    A recent analysis by the consulting firm Wood Mackenzie estimates there will be about 741 gigawatt-hours of battery storage in 2030. This amount equates to 741,000 megawatt-hours (MWh). These may sound like big numbers, but the figures are actually damning evidence that battery storage is an entirely unserious energy proposal.

    In 2019, the state of Minnesota consumed 72 million megawatt-hours of electricity. This means the amount of battery storage expected to be in existence for the entire world would be the equivalent of just one percent of Minnesota’s annual energy consumption.

    But that’s not all!

    Not only will the needed battery storage not exist, but it’s also incredibly expensive.

    Current cost estimates for battery storage are about $250 per kilowatt-hour, which equates to a cost of $250,000 per megawatt-hour. This means the cost of all the expected battery storage in the world (741,000 MWh by 2030) would cost $185 billion to build, and this doesn’t even begin to include the cost of building the wind turbines and solar panels needed to charge the batteries!

    More fundamentally, that $185 billion is just to build batteries that can store one percent of Minnesota’s electricity needs. (For comparison, Minnesota’s GDP is $339 billion.) Where the remaining 99% of Minnesota’s needs, and the needs of the rest of the planet, will come from, is anyone’s guess. And you can easily do the math and see that no such scheme is even remotely possible, let alone affordable.

    Add in the fact that battery storage only lasts for 10 years, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and it becomes blindingly obvious that we should instead be focusing on building new nuclear power plants that will come online faster and produce much more electricity for a much lower cost.

    That recommendation is beyond question if the goal is to provide ordinary Americans with cheap and reliable energy without emitting carbon dioxide. But that is not the goal of environmentalists or of the Green New Deal. To be blunt, they couldn’t care less whether peons have reliable access to energy, or how much they have to pay for it. A great deal of money stands to be made by green-allied companies and utilities. Why? Because the peons will be paying so much. When this sort of payoff is in the offing, science will not be allowed to get in the way.

  6. The truthful news article by Anastasia Lennon & Will Sennott gained national attention. John Bullard raises objections to the article but offers no alternatives only his résumé. There are 50 safe third-generation nuclear power plants already in operation and under construction worldwide, and other 200-plus plants are in the planning or preparation phases. Nuclear is safe and small local plants can be built starting at military bases first.

  7. In the past, John Bullard said the answer to the climate crisis is another tax.
    It may be worth noting in October 2018 “John Bullard, former mayor of New Bedford, sums up the climate crisis accurately and persuasively. And he singles out one effective option for addressing climate change, a carbon tax.” The title to the article was: “Bullard’s carbon tax commentary was spot-on.”

  8. 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 cosy 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.

  9. 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.

  10. The original article by Anastasia Lennon and Will Sennett revealed an important collusion between the US 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 self regulating 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 eNGOs. 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.

  11. 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 off shore wind industry. No matter how many nor 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 are locked into fronting the primitive argument involving imaginary money loss. It’s all about lively hoods 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.

    1. Maybe educate yourself about the fishing industry and wind issues before you malign an entire industry please

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