This article appears in the May 7, 2021 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
Fishermen Challenge Biden Wind Follies
Few Jobs, ‘No Fishing’
May 1—The imagined spectacle of the vast offshore wind farms planned on America’s northeast coast, under President Biden’s Green New Deal, should be a national shame and an embarrassment to anyone who contemplates it. Offshore wind leases already granted, will litter the coastal sea beds from Cape Cod to Delaware with 10,000 immense windmills, each 600-700 feet tall, fouling fishing nets, blocking marine traffic, providing eyesores and not-so-healthful noise to those living, working, or recreating near the shore. These monsters will cover thousands of square miles of seabed (see map, next page) and all with an electric power capacity equal to 30 modern nuclear reactors standing on a total of just 25-30 square miles of land. (And the reactors would actually generate twice as much electric power in an average year.)
Then there is the jobs problem. (Biden calls it an “infrastructure and jobs plan,” remember?) Even according to the press release from the Denmark-based multinational wind turbine producer Ørsted A/S and the American Wind Energy Association, these 15 active commercial offshore wind leases when fully developed will “represent” about 80,000 jobs “within the next decade.” That’s not many, and as we will see, it is an over-promise. Building those 30 modern nuclear reactors instead would employ about one-third more construction workers and engineers, according to this recent cross-national study.
And once those reactors were built, half as many operating jobs would continue at them; whereas operating all these wind farms, once erected, would involve only about 1,500 full-time jobs according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
These unreliable, throwback technologies—wind and solar—being installed by multinational companies like Ørsted with trillions in capital available from global banks and fund management companies, are really all there is of new U.S. “infrastructure” investment, including the “infrastructure” fraction of Biden’s American Rescue Plan so-called. The plan is promising billions in loan guarantees for these “green finance” investments, and also for subsidized contracts with these multinationals to “upgrade ports” for construction of windmill parts and ships to carry them out and plant them in the sea bed. Even Cortland, New York, where the Indian Point nuclear plant that has been powering New York City for decades was shut down April 30, has suddenly appeared on the list of such possible “ports.”
The payoff for these financiers and companies will be multifaceted. They anticipate doubled, or worse, electricity prices in the United States, as already seen in the European countries which have gone for these junk technologies—and no prices are higher than the 40 cents/kilowatt hour average in Denmark itself. And they will get “carbon offset credits” under European Union schemes, as assets with which they can speculate.
Ørsted and BP are oil-and-gas giants which have essentially become wind-and-solar multinationals. Some black humor has hit Ørsted: Its stock soared in 2020 because it was a windy year on the North Sea; but it plunged recently because of less wind in 2021, apparently, and because the undersea electric cables are getting scraped and damaged by the rocks placed on the sea bed to stabilize the giant wind turbines.
Some trade unions in the electric power industry seem willing to sign on to the pathetic “green” deal offered them, rather than organize with other constituencies for real, productive infrastructure. North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) signed a deal with Ørsted “to transition U.S. union construction workers into the offshore wind industry” (they’ve lost about 6% of their national employment in the past 18 months); and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) has supported wind turbines off the Long Island coasts (they’ve lost about 8% of their employment in the same period).
Food Supply Affected
But some constituency and local organizations have begun to fight this ill wind that blows no one any good. Speaking at an educational and informational symposium conducted by New York independent candidate for Senate Diane Sare on April 23, Bonnie Brady, Executive Director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association reported:
The Long Island Power Authority wanted to put two 200-MW arrays of 2-megawatt turbines of offshore wind within state waters … right in the middle of our squid grounds.
Separately, David Frulla, representing the Atlantic Scallop Fishery trade association, reported that the two areas of the New York Bight off New York Harbor which are designated by the Biden Administration, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and BP for offshore wind, intersect important scallop fishing grounds.
Brady showed with project maps that “Long Island itself is completely dwarfed by the size of all of these [wind farms] that they have in the works…. The Rhode Island/Massachusetts wind-energy area is actually two-thirds of the size of Grand Canyon National Park,” and that “This is where guys fish!”
Ms. Brady’s presentation—and later discussion—of the multifaceted damage and dangers these giant wind turbines can inflict on fishing, marine life, radar, ocean sediments, navigation, and more, is stunning. Her presentation, and the entire seminar, titled, “How the Green New Deal is Shutting Down Food Supply,” is available here.
Bruce Beckwith, a commercial fisherman from Montauk, Long Island who spoke after Brady, added:
How far apart will these wind generators be spaced? Are we going to be able to fish in the same areas that the windmills are going to be placed? That’s not a given…. I’m concerned myself about being able to insure my vessel. Is this going to affect … if I’m even going to be able to get insurance on my boat now because of the extra danger of these wind platforms…. These windmills, I think, have a really good chance of affecting fishermen’s ability to harvest seafood.
Broad Opposition in New York State
In February, energy and power analyst Robert Bryce wrote in Forbes:
The forecast buildout of offshore wind in the U.S. will require industrializing vast swaths of some of the most heavily fished and navigated waters in North America. It will require anchoring thousands of offshore platforms along the Eastern Seaboard, which could interfere with marine mammal migration and wreak navigational havoc during a hurricane, major storm, or oil spill. It will also add yet more noise pollution to the already-noisy ocean.
The New York Bight is a particularly ironic example. After Superstorm Sandy in 2012 inundated a large area of New York City, a $9-10 billion proposal for a high-technology submersible sea gate running across the outside of New York Harbor—real, protective infrastructure—was revived by groups of engineers, but ignored or downplayed by city, state and federal elected officials. Now completely wasteful installations of unreliable electric power in the same area are having many billions thrown at them.
Brady also told the symposium that the foreign companies running the wind projects have their own workforce they will bring with them. She pointed out that the funding of these national companies comes in various cases from labor pension funds—and they had been turning very large profits due to subsidies. But they usually use their own engineering staffs and seamen on building the turbines, shipping them, embedding them, wiring them, etc.
Of course, if you read the media in the United States or anywhere in Europe, you’ll only hear the discredited canard that it’s China that does this, in the projects it invests in in Africa and Southeast Asia.
Diane Sare’s symposium team has also found that in western New York State a Coalition to Protect Our Communities is fighting the promotion of large solar farms on agricultural land, under the banner, “Solar farms are not agriculture!” Syracuse.com had reported that a “monster CNY [Central New York] solar farm would replace corn and soybeans with power for 30,000 homes. The proposed facility in the rural town of Conquest would contain hundreds of thousands of solar panels spread across 2,000 acres, or more than three square miles.” (Lowering CO2 emissions by removing trees and eliminating food crops?) The three nuclear reactors at Nine Mile Point in Oswego, New York, on half the land area, had powered, not 30,000, but 2.8 million residential and business customers in 2018.
In fact Bryce, in the Forbes analysis cited above, judged that New York State’s big move for offshore wind is due to intense opposition of localities all over Upstate and western New York to both solar and wind farms on land.
The promise of “new jobs, union jobs” coming from President Biden on down, came back to bite some New Jersey trade unions and legislators who bought it from Ørsted. The resulting scandal got an Ørsted executive fired. In June of 2019, Ørsted announced it had been chosen by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, with the support of Governor Phil Murphy (a Democrat and former financier) and members of the state legislature, to build the “first large-scale offshore wind farm,” called “Ocean Wind,” 15 miles southeast of Atlantic City. New Jersey electric power ratepayers were in for about $80 million/year for 20 years.
However, by September 2020 they were under attack. New Jersey Senate Leader and trade unionist Steven Sweeney, with two other legislators, wanted the Ørsted deal suspended. They called for an investigation of whether Ørsted had misrepresented themselves in their application to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, because none of the 15,000 jobs promised in the projects over “a 25-year lifespan” were appearing. “We are starting to speak with our colleagues throughout the Northeast about their experiences with wind energy companies, including Ørsted,” the three legislators wrote. “We are asking if these companies, including Ørsted, have made the same representations in other states and have equally failed to deliver.”
But Ørsted in October replaced its North American CEO (who was Danish) with a U.S. Navy veteran who promised—again—that the jobs would be forthcoming, and that has appeared to appease labor. That same month, NABTU signed the deal with Ørsted which is reported above.
Large costs for taxpayers and ratepayers, a new speculative derivatives market for banks and financial firms, scanty “job creation,” interference with productive maritime economic activity and farming—these are the things that happen when a society agrees to let the world’s biggest financial conglomerates and central banks blow up a huge “green” financial bubble, and let the co-thinkers of the British royals replace modern technologies with primitive throwbacks to reduce humanity’s dominion on this planet.