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By Emily Greenhalgh
PBN Web Editor
BOSTON – In what is being called “a first of its kind collaboration,” a coalition of environmental organization and offshore wind developers have agreed to a series of voluntary measures to help protect the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale while helping to expedite offshore wind development.
Deepwater Wind, NRG Bluewater Wind and Energy Management Inc. – owner of Cape Wind in Massachusetts – have worked with the Conservation Law Foundation, the National Wildlife Federation and the Natural Resources Defense Council to draft a set of protective measures that developers will implement over the next four years.
These voluntary protective measures focus on the mid-Atlantic wind energy areas, which stretch from New Jersey to Virginia, and protect the right whale by reducing or avoiding sound impacts from exploratory activities that developers use to determine where to build wind farms, especially during migration season.
According to a release, this is important because acoustic disturbances under the water can disrupt whale communication, migration and feeding.
“Deepwater Wind is proud to sign this historic agreement to help protect the North Atlantic right whale,” Jeffrey Grybowski, CEO of Deepwater Wind, said in a statement. “Offshore wind energy is a critical component to our nation’s long-term energy security.”
The release said that Deepwater Wind and Grybowski led the industry in developing the agreement. “We have an enormous energy resource right off of our coast and developing it will help preserve our environment and protect species like the North Atlantic right whale. But this energy resource must be developed responsibly, and we are committed to being a national leader in responsible development,” said Grybowski.
The agreement, which was born out of a shared objective to expedite responsible offshore wind energy in the Mid-Atlantic, was sent to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Wednesday. The bureau oversees offshore renewable energy development in the United States.
“We share with these leading developers a common objective to get offshore wind up and running as quickly as possible as a key tool in the fight against climate change,” Tricia K. Jedele, vice president and director of Conservation Law Foundation Rhode Island, said in a statement.
“To be clear, removing obstacles to offshore wind doesn’t mean cutting corners. Indeed, these companies have worked pro-actively with scientists and members of the environmental community to develop these new right whale protections and build them into their business plans,” said Jedele. “It’s a win-win agreement that both enhances protection for critically endangered right whales and advances offshore wind’s progress in the Atlantic.