The Windmills of Your Political Mind


Did New Jersey Republicans just lose one of their better issues?

Plans to build a wind farm off the Jersey coast are being delayed a year. That may mean nothing in the long run, but how about the short run? Like between now and early November?

Republicans have seized on the issue, calling it a heavy-handed attempt by the Democrats to push through an unpopular project. It is also true that many Republicans are not happy with alternative energy development in the first place.

In the case at hand, the GOP has complained about state tax breaks for the developer, potential damage to tourism down the shore and most dramatically, dead whales washing up on the beach. The “Save the Whales” mantra obviously gets attention.

Not only that, some environmentalists agree that underwater sonar activity related to future turbine construction is disorienting to whales, leading to their demise, generally by coming in contact with ships.

At the moment, there is no actual turbine construction.

And now we learn there apparently won’t be for some time.

Orsted, the Danish wind energy developer, said this week that offshore wind development in New Jersey is being delayed until 2026, a year after the original target.

It said the problem is higher interest rates, supply chain issues and the inability to get enough federal tax credits.

At the same time, the company said it is not abandoning the project.

So in simple political terms, what do Republicans do?

Do they continue to blast Democrats for a project that is not foreseen to be done until 2026?  Time moves quickly, but that’s a long time away in politics. There will be a different governor in 2026.

As for Democrats, instead of saying there is no absolute evidence sonar equipment is killing whales, which is true, they can say something like, “What’s the big deal? The project is on hold.”

Some Democrats already are getting squeamish. A recent statement by Senate President Nicholas Scutari and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin suggested the state should proceed with offshore wind development cautiously.

So, Orsted’s announcement this week is good news for the Dems.

Of course, some with vision beyond 70 days must lament a delay when we’re seeing wildfires, smoky air and dangerous storms all over the country.

Elections come and go, but a changing climate is here for the long haul.

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