With ten energy companies looking at building wind turbines off the Virginia coast, Virginia’s Offshore Wind Development Authority had a meeting last week to talk about protecting one of the coast’s largest tourists:
Justin Allegro, who manages the National Wildlife Federation’s Renewable Energy and Wildlife Program, says offshore wind development must include protections for the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale.
“The challenge is, of course, that they do migrate right through the areas that have been identified in the Mid-Atlantic, in particular, for wind energy development offshore,” he says.
Allegro says leading wind power developers agreed last year to help protect the right whale primarily by reducing sound impacts during wind power exploration, but he wants the protections extended to cover the turbine construction as well. He adds the National Wildlife Federation heartily endorses wind power as a way to stem the effects of climate change, and he hopes energy companies voluntarily get on board with protecting the right whale in the early stages of wind energy development.
Protecting whales makes sense both environmentally and economically as they’re a big tourist attraction off Virginia Beach.
Photo: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, NOAA Research Permit # 775-1875