U.S. sets plans to protect endangered whales near offshore wind farms; firms swap wind leases

Two federal environmental agencies issued plans Thursday to better protect endangered whales amid offshore wind farm development.

That move came as two offshore wind developers announced they were swapping projects.

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released final plans to protect endangered North American right whales, of which there are only about 360 left in the world.

The agencies said they are trying to find ways to better protect the whales amid a surge of offshore wind farm projects, particularly on the U.S. East Coast. They plan to look for ways to mitigate any potential adverse impacts of offshore wind projects on the whales and their habitat.

The strategy will use artificial intelligence and passive acoustic monitoring to determine where the whales are at a given time and to monitor the impacts of wind development on the animals.

It also calls for avoiding the granting of offshore wind leases in areas where major impacts to right whales may occur; establishing noise limits during construction; supporting research to develop new harm minimization technologies; and making it a priority to develop quieter technology and operating methods for offshore wind development.

They also want to conduct “robust sound field verification” of offshore wind operations to ensure that noise levels are not louder than expected.

  • January 25, 2024
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