Gov. Phil Murphy has asked the federal government for a 180-day extension on the comment period concerning new locations for offshore wind development in the New York Bight, to give fishermen more time to give input.
The move has angered some environmentalists who say wind energy development is long overdue.
“New Jersey stakeholders have not yet been meaningfully involved in the process, including New Jersey’s large and valuable commercial fishing industry,” Murphy wrote in a May 4 letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
The comment period is to end May 29. Murphy’s request would keep it open another six months.
The delay would not affect companies that have already been awarded leases, such as Orsted’s project off Atlantic City.
Murphy said the state remains committed to developing offshore wind, citing his executive order directing state agencies to take immediate steps to generate 3,500 megawatts of offshore wind energy for the state by 2030.
The New York-New Jersey Bight is the area between Long Island in New York and the New Jersey coast.
New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said the delay contradicts Murphy’s promise to immediately start the state’s offshore wind programs.
“We’ve done studies to find the best places for wind that have the least environmental impacts six years ago,” said Tittel. “We can grow our economy and create jobs while protecting our environment.”
Murphy’s letter said the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management scheduled only one fisheries-based meeting on the New York Bight in one location in New Jersey, and more were needed.
“Information from the New Jersey fishing industry is particularly critical because its main fishing grounds are in areas that New York submitted to BOEM for potential wind energy development,” wrote Murphy.
“While New Jersey believes that wind energy and the fishing industry can coexist productively, it is critical that potential conflicts from these multiple uses be identified and planned for early in the process,” Murphy said in the letter.