Letter: Rosner: No public trust is root of problem
The first axiom of ecosystem stability is simple: organisms that cooperate with each other will survive, even thrive, in an evolutionary arc.
The recent proposal to combine an offshore industrial wind complex, nature center (or what would be left of Fenwick Island State Park), acres of toxic asphalt parking lots, scenic overviews (of real-time climate change), is the antithesis of any sort of cooperation.
As in all things DNREC, the plan has dark shades of secrecy, regulatory overreach and public bullying. One would think that state officials would have actually waited and carefully considered the BOEM Construction & Operational Permit (COP) and the project PEIS/NEPA review for the proposed wind area before entering into any discussion with Orsted.
By entering into a quasi-business agreement with a private company that must win state permit approval, without the proper documentation of scientific studies, project impacts, public comment and Federal agency review (NOAA, BOEM, USACE), DNREC has not only endangered the future health of the ocean ecosystem, but also the immediate role of Delaware in diminishing any local impacts of climate change.
There are technological solutions to cleaner energy that could be implemented on a sustainable scale in Delaware, which everyone would agree upon. These solutions, without impinging or fragmenting more even ocean habitat, must be addressed in the NEPA process. Combining measures of conservation and preservation of the planet’s natural sequestering carbon pumps, (whale habitat, wetlands) with rigorous monitoring of applied science, there could be a chance for improvements.
Now that the path is muddy, public distrust of any due process is at an all-time high, there will only be more division and divisive behavior by both sides. Forever and ever. Delaware isn’t unique in this community fracture. It’s a common theme wherever wind turbines are proposed or built.
Sadly, the only chance for any project mitigation is with judicial oversight on all levels. In Rhode Island, commercial fisherman attended numerous shareholder meetings, provided comments and requested changes in wind turbine arrays to protect commercial fisheries. Orsted, in their final project design, didn’t cooperate or change one aspect of design. Beware of gift-bearing strangers promising transparency.
No doubt, permits for onshore transmission lines will be issued, somewhere in Delaware. My money is on Delaware Seashore State Park. Maryland is a resounding no. DNREC is betting that time and money will wear down all opposition, and the legal process will overwhelm the uninitiated.
On Cape Cod, public trust had become the central issue for the community. As Deepwater Wind Vice President Clint Plummer commented in 2018: “Cape Wind died because they were unable to build enough trust with local communities to get past years of litigation.”
No public trust. No private company cooperation. The gradual demise of our coastal community? The message is plain and clear.
Gregg W. Rosner