[MARMAM] NRDC: Ocean Planning Success: New Agreement Will Promote Offshore Wind and Protect Precious Whales

Tracy Gill - NOAA Federal tracy.gill at noaa.gov
Wed Dec 12 10:52:34 PST 2012

 Ocean Planning Success: New Agreement Will Promote Offshore Wind and
Protect Precious Whales

Sarah Chasis’s Blog <http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/schasis/>
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[image: Sarah Chasis]

Posted December 11, 2012 in Reviving the World's
Tags: marinespatialplanning, oceannoise, oceanplanning,offshorewind,
renewableenergy, rightwhales, whales
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In a landmark agreement announced today, three leading offshore wind energy
companies and several environmental groups have come together in favor of
smart offshore wind energy development and protections for endangered ocean
creatures. Together, they have outlined a plan to safely develop offshore
wind energy along the East Coast without harming the North Atlantic right
whale—one of the world’s most endangered giants. With the Obama
Administration moving to expedite wind energy
our coasts, this cooperative effort is a fantastic example of the
smart-from-the-start planning our oceans need.

Offshore wind turbines off our shores can increase the clean, renewable
energy flowing into our grid, reducing our dependence on polluting fossil
fuels that are harming our climate and our seas.  But ocean planners and
advocates also want to ensure that the development of this promising new
industry is consistent with protection of endangered sea creatures, such as
the North Atlantic right whale. Correctly locating offshore wind farms and
incorporating prudent protection measures into development plans is
therefore extremely important, in order to safeguard the health of these
ocean ecosystems, while still growing our clean energy economy.

Today, fewer than 500 right whales
earning them the sad title of one of the world’s most endangered creatures.
Each year, these magnificent creatures migrate from their summer feeding
grounds off the coast of New England down to Georgia and Florida, where
they give birth in the warmer waters. By siting offshore wind turbines
correctly, we can avoid interrupting their natural migration patterns with
potentially harmful noise and ship traffic. Good planning like this ensures
we can protect these creatures, and get clean, climate change-fighting
offshore wind power up and running.

With this background in mind, NRDC and other environmental groups have been
working closely with wind developers to ensure that both the whales are
protected and the wind companies can capitalize on growing market
opportunities. The win-win agreement reached this week includes several
compromises on how companies can explore, test, and develop offshore wind
sites, including:

   - Seasonal restrictions on certain noise-generating  activities during
   the whales’ peak migration through the Mid-Atlantic region on their way
   between their calving and feeding grounds;
   - Limits on boat speed at and near offshore wind sites;
   - Preventive measures, such as the use of noise-reducing technologies,
   that reduce risk during non-peak period of the migration.
   - And real-time monitoring by marine mammal observers to ensure that
   whales are not getting too close to potentially harmful activities.

This type of comprehensive planning—incorporating the concerns and ideas of
multiple stakeholders—is gradually making its way into our national
dialogue when it comes to ocean management. A fundamental concept of our
first-ever National Ocean
marine spatial planning can help evaluate the costs and
benefits<http://www.nrdc.org/oceans/cmsp.asp> of
various ocean activities occurring in the same area—from fishing and
shipping to energy development and recreation—while incorporating the need
to protect fragile ecosystems now and for generations to come.

And as has already been shown in economic studies, this coordination
between various industries and stakeholders can help maximize economic
benefits and minimize losses. One study in Massachusetts concluded that
optimal siting of offshore wind zones could generate more than $10 billion
in extra value<http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/schasis/ocean_planning_would_bring_bil_1.html>
the *clean energy sector*, and prevent $1 million in losses to nearby
fishing and whale-watching industries, as compared to the status quo.

Thanks to the cooperation and comprehensive thinking of wind developers and
environmental groups, smart-from-the-start planning is taking shape off our
east coast. In the coming years, we can expect to see cleaner, renewable
energy flowing into our grid, while North Atlantic right whales continue
their migration down to warmer waters. And with smart planning efforts like
this leading the way, we’re looking forward to a healthier and more
sustainable future for our oceans.
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