The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Bill Wolfe (609) 397-4861; Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337

Political Arm-Twisting for Massive Delaware Bay Wind Farm

New Jersey under Pressure to Lift Ban on Wind Turbines in Migratory Bird Flyway


The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is being
pressed behind-the-scenes to drop its opposition to wind farms in
Delaware Bay, an internationally recognized migratory bird stopover,
according to e-mails released today by Public Employees for
Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Documents reveal a powerful South
Jersey Senator and a former DEP Commissioner pushing to reverse a DEP
scientific finding that Delaware Bay "is not appropriate for a
large-scale wind turbine project due to...impacts to migratory and other
bird populations."

Senate Democratic Majority Leader Stephen Sweeney, whose
district borders the Bay, is backing plans by Delsea Energy to put more
than 100 wind turbines to produce more than 380 megawatts in the state
waters of Delaware Bay. Former DEP Commissioner Bradley Campbell is an
attorney representing Delsea.

On June 11, 2009, Delsea officials, Sweeney and Campbell met with
DEP Commissioner Mark Mauriello, Deputy Commissioner Jay Watson, and
Assistant Commissioner Scott Brubaker in Sweeney's state house office.
Mauriello and Campbell later had a private conversation on the subject
but then DEP staff wrote Delsea that Delaware Bay is an unsuitable
location for wind energy development:

"...the Department has determined that we have, over many years of
study and evaluation, developed sufficient information regarding the
diversity, scope, and importance of avian resources in and around the
Delaware Bay. Based on these data, we conclude that, at this time, this
area is not appropriate for a large-scale wind turbine project..."

On August 25, 2009, Campbell wrote a sharp e-mail to Mauriello objecting to DEP's decision:

"When you and I spoke, you said to expect a letter from land use
suggesting a meeting to review technical concerns about the Delsea
monitoring application....Did I misunderstand, or has the Department's
position changed from what you described?...Is it really the
Department's view that private parties will not have the opportunity to
collect data that might modify, rebut, or qualify F&W's broad
conclusions about the entire Bay? I don't want to protract a debate or
impose unduly on your time, but the letter is quite different from what
I expected based on our conversation."

"This case is yet another perfect example of why the back channels
at DEP need to be closed," stated New Jersey PEER Director Bill Wolfe,
a former DEP analyst, who has been pushing for transparency, revolving
door and whistleblower protection reforms. "The future of Delaware Bay
should not be decided in a private huddle or by crony politics."

Delaware Bay sits on the great Atlantic Flyway and is a vital
stopover for plovers, sandpipers, and other shorebirds migrating from
South America to stop and feed on horseshoe crab eggs before heading to
their Arctic breeding grounds. Delsea wants to put arrays of turbines
one mile offshore covering an area of 42 square miles in northwestern
Delaware Bay.

"Delaware Bay should not become a deli for slicing up migratory
birds," Wolfe added, voicing concern about recent examples of DEP
altering or suppressing its scientific studies under political
pressure. "DEP should stand firm behind the overwhelming science and
not cave in as they have in the past."

This June, the U.S. Interior Department granted five wind energy leases on sites more than six miles offshore in federal waters.


Read the e-mails on the Delsea-Delaware Bay plan

See the key role Delaware Bay plays for migratory birds

Look at DEP reform proposals

Review recent examples of DEP suppressing or altering science

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is a national alliance of local state and federal resource professionals. PEER's environmental work is solely directed by the needs of its members. As a consequence, we have the distinct honor of serving resource professionals who daily cast profiles in courage in cubicles across the country.