Pentagon Warns Offshore Wind Projects Could Threaten National Security

Pentagon Warns Offshore Wind Projects Could Threaten National Security
In October 2022, the U.S. Navy and Air Force documented areas of potential conflicts between Department of Defense activities and proposed offshore wind development. Areas in red are deemed “highly problematic.” Map courtesy of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
Scottie Barnes

The Pentagon is sounding the alarm over planned offshore wind farm projects that it says could negatively impact U.S. national security.

According to published reports, the Pentagon is concerned that nearly all of the new areas slated for offshore wind energy development along the Central Atlantic coast—a key component of the Biden administration’s climate agenda—would conflict with military operations.

The Pentagon’s opposition could jeopardize the administration’s goal of harnessing 30 gigawatts of fixed-bottom offshore wind power by the end of the decade, which it claims could power 10 million homes, and 15 gigawatts from floating offshore wind infrastructure by 2035, potentially providing power to 5 million homes.

The dispute is the latest hurdle for an industry facing growing opposition from dozens of coastal communities, tribal interests, and the tourism, fishing, and shellfish industries.

Ocean Energy Under Fire

The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has already leased 2.3 million acres and plans to lease another 1.7 million to install an estimated 3,500 turbines along the Atlantic coast.

But areas of potential conflicts delineated by the U.S. Navy and Air Force on a map dated Oct. 6, 2022, call those plans into question. It specifically declared four of six Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) identified by BOEM for an offshore wind auction as potentially affecting military operations.

The map shows vast red areas deemed “highly problematic.” They encompass large areas that the Department of the Interior has earmarked for wind development leases off the coasts of North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware.

The Pentagon reportedly identified conflicts with operations and facilities, including North Carolina’s Dare County bombing range, used for training fighter jet crews, and a weapons station in Yorktown, Virginia.

In an email to The Epoch Times, BOEM expressed confidence that these areas of conflict could be resolved, stating that it “has a long working relationship with DOD,” and has successfully deconflicted and identified areas that have resulted in 27 leases.

“We will continue this collaboration as we seek to identify new lease areas in the Central Atlantic,” wrote Lissa Eng, BOEM’s National Communications Lead for Renewable Energy Programs.

Eng acknowledged that the bureau was previously aware of the DOD concerns.

“Because BOEM was already collaborating with DOD, we did not incorporate a DOD compatibility assessment in the draft Wind Energy Areas released for public comment in November 2022,” she explained.

Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.), a House Armed Services Committee member and an ardent supporter of offshore wind, is confident the conflicts can be resolved.

According to his office, DOD raised similar concerns for the offshore wind lease areas proposed off the coast of his California district. In 2020, the congressman formed a working group that brought together DOD and other federal, state, and local partners to negotiate those potential conflicts, Ian Mariani, a spokesman for Carbajal, told The Epoch Times.

This led to written commitments for continued partnership in assessing potential impacts, Mariani said.

“With those lease areas auctioned off last year, Congressman Carbajal believes that the agreement he helped facilitate on the Central Coast proves that these concerns are navigable and surmountable for other proposed wind energy projects, and is willing to use his region’s example as a roadmap to helping the United States harness the full potential of this clean energy source’s potential,” Mariani said.

A Bone to Pick With BOEM

Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-N.J.), an outspoken critic of offshore wind energy, said BOEM has been tone-deaf to the concerns of various interest groups.

“No matter who you ask—whether its DOD, NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] scientists, fishermen—the answer is always the same: BOEM does not take genuine input from anyone,” Van Drew told The Epoch Times.

“The agency ‘hears’ you out for the sole purpose of saying they made an effort but decides to move forward with these projects despite the countless number of concerns.”

He provided a litany of examples.

“When fishermen indicated their concerns with how these projects will affect their livelihoods, their concerns were pushed aside.

“When I highlighted how the BOEM’s own environmental impact statement admitted that offshore wind will have no impact on climate change, there was no response from the administration.

“When NOAA’s own scientist raised concerns with how these projects could affect the endangered right whale, he was ignored.

“And when my [March 16 congressional hearing] revealed that these massive turbines could interfere with radar systems and highlighted the warnings from our own military, this administration continued full steam ahead,” said Van Drew.

In that hearing, Meghan Lapp, fisheries liaison for Seafreeze, testified that windfarm development poses a serious risk to navigation, especially in fog and heavy weather.

Lapp cited a National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine study in 2022 that found wind turbine generators can interfere with the radar systems that mariners rely on for navigation.

“Mariners can’t transit through the areas because windmills cause radar interference,” she told The Epoch Times. “Navigation without radar is not safe.”

This affects fishing fleets as well as the U.S. Coast Guard and Navy, she said.

“But BOEM doesn’t care. They are moving forward at lightning speed regardless of the fact that it’s a life-threatening situation,” she continued.

Landowners and fishing groups are currently challenging the federal environmental permit issued for the 62-turbine Vineyard Wind project off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.

In that case, plaintiffs argue that BOEM did not adequately evaluate the potential impact the project might have on local fishermen and the critically endangered North American right whale, among other issues.

“But Vineyard Wind is already starting construction, even before the lawsuits have been decided,” said Lapp. “So there you have it.”

Van Drew said that these examples show that the Biden Administration is fast-tracking offshore wind development, despite threats to national security and U.S. interest groups.

“More than 50 percent of the wind energy leases have gone to foreign firms, which means foreign countries will be controlling our energy,” he said. “The only thing this administration cares about is achieving their Green New Deal agenda, no matter the cost.”

Scottie Barnes writes breaking news and investigative pieces for The Epoch Times from the Pacific Northwest. She has a background in researching the implications of public policy and emerging technologies on areas ranging from homeland security and national defense to forestry and urban planning.
Related Topics