Mid-AtlanticWelcome to Surfrider in the Mid-Atlantic! Here you can find Surfrider news and information from the five states of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia plus Washington DC. More Details
This summer Surfrider chapters in New York and New Jersey jumped into action to fight a proposed LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) Deepwater Port (known as “Port Ambrose”) proposed 17 miles southeast of Jones Beach, New York and 24 miles east of Long Branch, New Jersey. Representatives from local chapters showed up and spoke at hearings held on July 9 and 10, 2013, in Long Beach, NY, and Edison, NJ. For more details check out this document.
Members were concerned that the port could: create air and water pollution; harm marine life; be an attractive terrorist target; disrupt shipping to and from the Port of New York; exclude fishermen from fishing grounds; conflict with a wind turbine project proposed for the same area; and lead to increased fracking upstate. These hazards and more were identified by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie when he vetoed this project in 2011 and reaffirmed his veto in 2012.
Surfrider members also were active online, submitting 813 comments to Governors Christie and Cuomo. Those comments were part of more than 18,000 submitted against the project. You can still submit a comment to Cuomo here and Christie here—either governor can veto this project but as yet have not.
Further south, the Dominion Cove Point LNG facility, built to import LNG and located in Lusby, Maryland on Chesapeake Bay, wants to switch to exporting. On September 11, 2013 the company received one of the approvals they need from the Energy Department. They still require a permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
If built, the refurbished Cove Point would be the first liquefied natural gas export facility on the East Coast. The project would cost upwards of $3.8 billion dollars and require the construction of a new power plant on site to provide power to cool and liquefy the gas. The facility would enable the export of .77 billion cubic feet of carbon-emitting, fracked natural gas per day.
Learn all about a new Mid-Atlantic ocean planning body and how you can let them know the importance of surfing to our coastal communities, economy, and culture.
What: Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body Public Meetings
When: 10:30AM-7PM Wednesday and 9:30AM-5:30PM Thursday September 24-25
Where: Wilson Hall Auditorium, Monmouth University, 400 Cedar Avenue, West Long Branch, New Jersey, 07764
Who: Anyone Who Cares About Our Ocean and Coasts! Click here to RSVP.
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body, or RPB, is a newly formed round-table of state, federal, and tribal government representatives who are tasked with creating a comprehensive plan for Mid-Atlantic coasts and oceans. For more information about the RPB process click here. To RSVP for the public meetings click here.
Make your voice heard by sending the RPB your thoughts either by email or by showing up and giving comments at the public meeting. Let the RPB know that recreational uses should be protected and promoted in the regional ocean plan.
Some suggestions for comments:
- Current recreational uses such as diving, boating, kayaking, fishing, bird watching, and surfing need to be protected. Such sustainable uses are critical to our coastal communities, economy, and culture.
- Regional ocean planning will create a blueprint that can ensure that we identify ocean areas that are appropriate for industrial use while maintaining current uses and protecting habitat and wildlife.
- The RPB should appoint a stakeholder advisory panel to provide regular input and advice from recreational users and ensure that meetings and materials are open to the public.
Major topics for the meeting include: how best to engage stakeholders, what regional ocean goals should be, what the planning area boundaries should be, what data are currently available, and what should be covered in the RPB’s charter.
The East Coast Regional Surfrider meeting will take place October 11-13, 2013 in Virginia Beach, VA. The annual meeting is a chance for Surfrider volunteers to learn effective chapter skills, gain knowledge on ocean topics, as well as meet other chapter folks and regional staff. Talk to your chapter executive committee members if you are interested in attending, as there is a limited amount of space.
NY: The Eastern Long Island Chapter wanted to start a Blue Water Task Force (BWTF) water quality testing program but the costs were prohibitive. To get around that issue the chapter partnered with Concerned Citizens of Montauk, a local advocacy group who agreed to share costs with them. The chapter also made water testing the focus of their yearly fundraiser, showing attendees exactly what their money would be used for–a great strategy for fundraising. See their testing results here.
NJ: The Jersey Shore Chapter of Surfrider is concerned about the many post-Sandy beach fill (“renourishment”) projects happening in their area. To keep track of the various projects, the chapter is organizing volunteers to monitor and document beach conditions prior to, and after beach fills by taking sand samples and video evidence. The chapter will then be in the position to alert government authorities if beach slopes are not formed correctly or if poor sand is being used. For more Information visit their website.
Surfrider’s recreation survey has been online since July and the numbers are in—see which states are leading the charge in completed surveys:
NEW YORK = 147
NEW JERSEY = 145
DELAWARE = 80
VIRGINIA = 63
MARYLAND = 54
PENNSYLVANIA = 34
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA = 13
Your help is needed to ensure that your favorite recreational areas are considered in coastal and ocean planning coming to the Mid-Atlantic. Surfrider is conducting an online survey of recreational uses such as beach goers, swimmers, beach wildlife viewers, surfers, kayakers, windsurfers, and divers. Find out more here.
Get your state back in the running: go to http://www.surfrider.org/mid-atlantic-recreation and enter your email address.
Your help is needed to ensure that your favorite recreational areas are considered in coastal and ocean planning coming to the Mid-Atlantic. The Surfrider Foundation, partnering with Ecotrust, Monmouth University’s Urban Coast Institute, and The Nature Conservancy and in close collaboration with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean, is conducting an online survey of recreational uses such as beach goers, swimmers, beach wildlife viewers, surfers, kayakers, windsurfers, and divers.
Participation is simple: go to http://www.surfrider.org/mid-atlantic-recreation and enter your email address. You can then fill out the survey at your own pace, saving as you go.
Recreational uses are poorly mapped in the Mid-Atlantic and better information is needed. The information collected in this survey will be incorporated into an online data portal operated by the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean, or MARCO. MARCO is an arrangement by the Governors of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia to improve the health of Mid-Atlantic ocean and coastal resources, and ensure that they continue to contribute to the economic vitality of coastal communities.
Hurricane Sandy struck coastal areas in the New York/New Jersey area on October 29, 2012. Hurricane Sandy was the second-costliest hurricane in United States history and there were at least 75 direct deaths in eight states. During the onslaught, damaged and overwhelmed wastewater infrastructure released eleven billion gallons of untreated and partially treated sewage.
In response to Sandy, Congress passed a massive aid package ($50.5 billion) that included $3.46 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild beaches along the coast. Robert S. Young PhD, Director, Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines, Western Carolina University, had this to say about the Corps money:
“Since about the 1930s we’ve spent around $1 billion total on all of the beach building projects in New Jersey….So that’s $1 billion in 2012 dollars to rebuild all of the beaches through the last several decades in New Jersey. So actually, $3.5 billion is a huge amount of money. I mean, they can rebuild every beach from Delaware to Connecticut, and there’s going to be money left over. You know, I’d really like to know what they’re going to do with that money and it’s not spelled out in the authorization bill.”
In a world where increased sea level rise and storms are the new normal, the question remains – what are we willing to do differently to avoid this tragedy from happening again? Can we create resilient coasts?
For our part responding to Sandy, Surfrider has: joined national and local groups to try and ensure federal disaster relief money supports smart rebuilding and doesn’t provide a blank check to the Corps; joined a coalition of New Jersey environmental groups to put forth guiding principles for rebuilding in the aftermath of Sandy; testified on a package of response bills in the New Jersey legislature; been working on a project to rebuilding the boardwalk in Long Beach, NY; and have had a chapter activist appointed to the erosion control committee in East Hampton, NY.
Additionally, Surfrider hosted a workshop in Long Beach, New York with chapter activists, coastal experts, partners and other community activists. The goal of the workshop was to create a set of principles to guide local Surfrider chapters as they grapple with beach and community rebuilding efforts. These principles will form the basis for a regional campaign asking the public and coastal agencies to rethink how we live and use the coast. Read a blog post about the workshop written by Dr. Chad Nelson, Surfrider’s Environmental Director.
The next phase of federal response is through the Corps of Engineers, FEMA and other federal agencies and will be guided by something called the National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF). This is a new process so the opportunities for public input are not clear yet. Stay tuned!
The National Ocean Policy (NOP) sounds like a wonky and esoteric topic overheard in a Washington D.C. bar. Well it is! However, the NOP is worth learning about because it will be shaping how coastal and ocean resources will be managed for years to come. And the NOP includes specific recommendations that could affect your favorite surf spot, so read on!
Established by Executive Order on July 19, 2010 by President Obama, the NOP created the National Ocean Council, which consists of 27 Federal agencies and departments, providing a venue for agencies to work together cooperatively, share information, and streamline decision-making.
To translate the NOP into on-the-ground actions, the National Ocean Council created the National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan. The Implementation Plan describes specific actions Federal agencies will take to address key ocean challenges.
The NOP subdivides the United States into nine regions (see map). In each region, a Regional Planning Body (RPB) will develop and implement a regional ocean plan. Currently only the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic RPBs have begun meeting. This is where you come in—if there is no data on your favorite surf spot it could be overlooked when these regional plans are created. Make sure you complete our recreation survey so this doesn’t happen!
For more info on the NOP, read Surfrider staff Peter Stauffer’s blog about if here.
Mark your calendars: The East Coast Regional Surfrider meeting will take place October 11-13, 2013, location TBD. This annual meeting is a chance for Surfrider volunteers to learn effective chapter skills, gain knowledge on ocean topics, as well as meet other chapter folks and regional staff.
VA: The Virginia Beach Chapter has partnered with the East Coast Surfing Championships to make sure their surfing competition is more environmentally friendly. By going to the source of the pollution, they are ensuring that less trash will end up on the beach after the event is over! Read more here.
CLI: The Central Long Island Chapter brought their beach cleanup into the water, by dragging chains to find hard objects below the waterline. See pictures of the weird stuff they found here.
DE: The Delaware Chapter partnered with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to have an in-person discussion about a beach fill project near a popular surf break. Reporters showed up to their Chapter meeting! Read more here.
Keeping up with offshore wind power developments is a full-time job. We summarized the latest happenings from each state in the Mid-Atlantic and provided links to tons of great additional information. We also put together a summary of how the federal government manages offshore wind power. Another great resource for understanding offshore wind is MARCO’s Guide to State Management of Offshore Wind Energy.
The only project in Virginia’s waters it the Virginia Offshore Wind Technology Advanced Project/Dominion Project, which calls for two 6-MW turbines about 22 miles offshore in 50 feet of water. The project has a Department of Energy grant but is waiting for additional clearance.
The Wind Energy Area offshore Virginia is made up of 22 OCS lease blocks and 5 partial blocks. The western edge of the area is approximately 20 nautical miles from Virginia Beach, and the eastern edge is approximately 37 nautical miles from Virginia Beach. The entire area is approximately 165 square nautical miles. See map. BOEM has a great page for Virginia with loads of information as does the U.S. Offshore Wind Collaborative.
There are currently no projects in Maryland, although the governor recently passed legislation supporting future projects. A fifth Maryland Renewable Energy Task Force meeting was held on January 29, 2013 in Annapolis. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss the zones delineation for the Wind Energy Area as well as discuss a Draft Proposed Sale Notice.
The Wind Energy Area offshore Maryland is made up of 29 whole OCS blocks and 4 partial blocks. The western edge is approximately 10 nautical miles from the Ocean City, Maryland coast, and the eastern edge is approximately 27 nautical miles from the Ocean City, Maryland coast. The entire area is approximately 207 square nautical miles. See map. BOEM has a great page for Maryland with loads of information of the Call for Information as does the U.S. Offshore Wind Collaborative.
BOEM reached an agreement on October 23, 2012 for a commercial wind energy lease with Bluewater Wind Delaware, LLC for an area of the OCS offshore Delaware within the WEA. The exact location of this site is unclear as is the future of the project as funding has been an issue.
The Wind Energy Area offshore Delaware is made up of 10 whole OCS blocks and 17 partial blocks. It is located between the incoming and outgoing shipping routes for Delaware Bay. The western edge is approximately 11 nautical miles east of Dewey Beach and the ￼￼￼eastern edge is approximately 23 nautical miles from Dewey Beach. The entire area is approximately 122 square nautical miles. See map. BOEM has a great page for Delaware with loads of information as does the U.S. Offshore Wind Collaborative.
The Atlantic City/Fishermen’s Energy 25-megawatt pilot project located 2.8 miles off the coast of Atlantic City in 35 feet of water has all necessary state and federal permits and a DOE grant. Construction is slated to begin by the end of 2013/early 2014 with installation in 2015, but funding is still an issue. The 4th BOEM New Jersey Renewable Energy Task Force meeting was held on December 18, 2012 in Trenton, New Jersey.
Another offshore wind-related project beginning in New Jersey has implications for other states. The Atlantic Wind Connection is a 7,000-megawatt-capacity backbone transmission system for offshore wind projects that will run from New Jersey to Virginia. It has been cleared by BOEM, and New Jersey just announced a port facility renovation to streamline its construction. For more information read this.
The Wind Energy Area offshore New Jersey contains approximately 43 whole OCS blocks and 34 partial blocks. The boundary begins 7 nautical miles from the shore and extends roughly 23 nautical miles seaward. It extends from southwest to northeast approximately 45 nautical miles between Avalon and Barnegat Light. The entire area is approximately 418 square nautical miles. See map. BOEM has a great page for New Jersey with loads of information as does the U.S. Offshore Wind Collaborative.
The New York Power Authority (NYPA), Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), and Consolidated Edison (ConEd) have formed a collaborative, working together to propose an offshore wind power project south of Long Island, approximately 13 miles off Rockaway Peninsula. The proposal includes the installation of up to 194, 3.6 megawatt (MW) wind turbines, yielding a potential 700 MW of wind energy generation. BOEM is currently reviewing the proposal.
The New York Renewable Energy Task Force met for the second time on April 3, 2012, to discuss NYPA’s request for a commercial lease offshore Long Island. BOEM has a great page for New York with loads of information as does the U.S. Offshore Wind Collaborative.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorizes the Secretary of the Department of the Interior (DOI) to grant leases on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) for alternative energy projects, including offshore wind energy projects. The Secretary then delegated this authority to the Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).
In February 2011 the DOI unveiled a coordinated strategic plan, A National Offshore Wind Strategy: Creating an Offshore Wind Industry in the United States, as well as announced the creation of priority Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) through the Smart from the Start Initiative. Here are the current projects with differing levels of federal approval.
The DOI through BOEM, set up a Renewable Energy Task Force in each Mid-Atlantic state. These collaborative organizations collect baseline data and bring stakeholders and government agencies together to discuss offshore wind power. Based on the work that has been underway to date through the task forces, WEAs have been identified offshore of four states in the Mid- Atlantic: Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia.
To begin looking at the environmental impacts from offshore wind construction, BOEM is preparing an environmental assessment (EA) pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This initial EA is only looking at impacts to the environment from first steps to construction like site characterization and assessment surveys, and the possible installation of meteorological towers and buoys.
Because individual wind projects are required to supply detailed construction and operation plans, separate ERs and full public reviews will occur for each wind project. In addition to NEPA, other environmental legislation needs to be satisfied for each project, these include the: Coastal Zone Management Act, Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Essential Fish Habitat), National Historic Preservation Act (Section 106), Endangered Species Act (Section 7), Clean Air Act, and Migratory Birds Treaty Act.
BOEM has a lot of authority over offshore wind, but they are not the only federal agency involved in the permitting process, the: U.S. Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Geological Survey, and Department of Defense all play a role as well.
By fall 2013 the Department of Interior will decide whether to conduct seismic airgun surveys off the Mid and South Atlantic coasts to assess oil and gas resources. The Administration’s proposed surveys, laid out in their Five Year Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program, will employ loud and damaging technologies and are the first step in opening new areas to oil drilling.
Seismic surveys have major impacts on marine animals. According to the Department’s own estimates, the surveys will injure upwards of 130,000 whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals over an eight year timeframe. The surveys will also impact millions of other animals (including fish species) through disruption of mating, feeding, communication, and migration activities.
Furthermore, offshore drilling will not solve our nation’s energy needs. According to the Department of Energy, fully developing all of our recoverable offshore oil reserves would lower gas prices by 3 cents. Such a tradeoff is not worth the risk to our coastal tourism, recreation, and commercial fishing economies, which generate billions of dollars in annual revenue on the Atlantic coast.
Thankfully, some of New Jersey’s congressmen oppose testing, as well as 35 other congressmen from around the country and region. For more information on oil and gas drilling visit Surfrider’s Not the Answer blog and sign our petition to stop seismic testing in the Mid-Atlantic!