Why Are Wind Farms Becoming Less Popular in One Coastal State?

A new poll has worrying news

Wind farm
An offshore wind farm in the U.K.
Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

As sources of green energy go, you’d think that wind power would be relatively uncontroversial. Unlike the batteries that power electric vehicles, turbines don’t require extensive mining; unlike nuclear power, turbines don’t have the risk of an environmentally devastating disaster.

Yet as Gothamist’s Nancy Solomon reports, a recent poll suggests that some New Jersey residents are souring on the idea of wind power. This is worrisome, as offshore wind power is — as the Washington Post reports — a key part of the Biden administration’s strategy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The Post article focuses on one contentious project off the coast of Ocean City, but points out that the conflict there could end up applying to more projects in the future.

Gothamist’s reporting cites a Monmouth University poll of New Jersey residents’ opinions on wind power. The majority of those polled — 54% — remain in favor of wind power, but this is down substantially from where it was in 2008, when 82% of those polled supported it. In the last four years, the percentage of those opposed to wind power has jumped dramatically, from 15% to 40%.

Much of this breaks down along partisan lines. Democrats polled were relatively consistent in their support for wind power, while Republican support dropped considerably. Independent support for wind power was also down, but less than it was for Republicans.

Among the reasons cited for opposition to wind power were concern over tourism and fears that wind turbines might result in whales dying. As Solomon writes, “[t]he spike in whale deaths began in 2016, long before any wind projects began.”

There does seem to be a concerted campaign against wind turbines afoot right now; Gothamist’s article cites reporting from The Guardian from earlier in the summer to that effect. And it suggests that the path towards cleaner energy may not be as streamlined as one would like.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.