Long Island May Become Home to Nation's Largest Wind Farm
The nation's largest offshore wind energy project is just one approval away from coming to fruition.
The Long Island Power Authority's (LIPA) board of directors will meet July 20 to approve Deepwater Wind's 90-megawatt, 15-turbine wind farm, according to Politico. Turbines would be placed 30 miles offshore—over the horizon and out of sight from land—and could provide energy to Long Island customers by the end of 2022.
London Array is the world's biggest offshore wind farm located in the outer Thames Estuary of the U.K. The farm consists of 175 Siemens 3.6MW turbines. Photo credit: Xcite Fun
"This is the first in New York, it's the largest to date, but we're looking at this and seeing a tremendous offshore wind resource that will be developed and it's not the last," Deepwater Wind CEO Thomas Falcone told the AP. "I think this is a very big step ... for New York, but also for the United States."
Deepwater Wind's Long Island project got a major boost today when New York Gov. Cuomo announced his support for the planned wind farm. In a statement, Cuomo said:
The LIPA Board of Trustees Wednesday will consider advancing the development of the nation's largest offshore wind farm off the coast of Long Island. I strongly encourage the Trustees to once again demonstrate New York's leadership on climate change and help achieve the state's ambitious goal of supplying 50 percent of our electricity from renewable energy by 2030.
Investing in New York's clean energy economy strengthens our communities by providing access to clean, affordable power and good quality green jobs. Next week marks another opportunity for this state to lead the nation in creating a stronger, more resilient energy system and protecting the environment for future generations.
The Sierra Club applauded Cuomo's announcement. Lisa Dix, the organization's senior New York representative, said:
This announcement is the first step toward a bold, long-term, large-scale offshore wind program for New York and catapults New York to the forefront of America's clean energy economy. Today was the result of years of hard work by concerned citizens across the island and around the state that understand that offshore wind is essential to moving New York to a 100 percent clean energy future, while protecting our wildlife, environment and coastal communities from the devastating impacts of climate disruption.
Deepwater Wind, a Rhode Island-based company, is currently building the nation's first offshore wind farm near Block Island, Rhode Island. The 30-megawatt, 5-turbine project farm is expected to go online later this year, the Providence Journal reported.
.@AWEA: U.S. #Wind Energy Blew Away Records in 2015 https://t.co/q2rVDJtA0y @VanJones68 @sierraclub @ClimateReality https://t.co/DmsG8INriv— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1460642006.0
Falcone said because the Long Island and Block Island projects are located in the same federally-approved waters, construction on the Long Island farm could be expedited to meet the plan's deadline.
"There's already construction going on there," he said. "It's in the same area."
The Long Island project would produce enough energy to power 50,000 homes in the Hamptons, the Providence Journal said.
Deepwater Wind's plan also includes the construction of two battery energy storage facilities that the Long Island Power Authority can use at peak demand for electricity. General Electric would design and install the facilities.
"Not only will the project reduce air pollution emissions on Long Island, but it'll also defer the need to build costly new power plants and transmission systems on the South Fork," then-Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski said when announcing the proposal last year.
Wind turbines in the Nysted Wind Facility, located 8-12 miles offshore Denmark, are arranged to take advantage of prevailing winds. Turbine spacing is carefully designed to maximize cost efficiency and power production.Photo credit: Bureau of Ocean Energy Managment
The Long Island project is just one of a number being considered in the Atlantic Ocean.
But, our nation's oceans aren't the only potential home for offshore wind farms. In June, Lake Erie Energy Development Co's (LEEDCo) "Icebreaker" project received a $40 million boost from the U.S. Department of Energy to build six 3.45-megawatt turbines in Lake Erie between 8 and 10 miles off the coast of Cleveland.
The U.S. lags behind other countries in utilizing this clean, renewable form of energy. Offshore wind has a projected 4,223 gigawatts of electric generating potential, with Lake Erie's waters alone accounting for more than 50 gigawatts of that power, as LEEDCo explained in an article.
World’s Largest Offshore Windfarm Will Power More Than 1 Million Homes https://t.co/z9iK4nrgYj @EWEA @ClimateReality https://t.co/Ph8U5980V3— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1454601128.0
Lorry Wagner, LEEDCo's president, told EcoWatch that political roadblocks are what's holding up the development of offshore wind as a viable energy source.
"It always comes down to policy and we have not had much for offshore wind," he said. "It is also true that onshore has been so successful, that offshore tends to get lost in the big picture. It will take a combination of policy and successful projects that will enable the industry to take hold."
The U.S. has seen several proposals for offshore wind farms, the Providence Journal said, but none have come to fruition yet.
"Offshore wind needs to be a significant part of the energy mix," Heather Leibowitz, the director of Environment New York, said. "It is key to putting the Empire State on a path toward an economy powered entirely by renewable energy. The 90-megawatts of energy produced off east Montauk will get us one step closer to this goal.
"LIPA's approval of the project is key to meeting Governor Cuomo's interim goal of 50 percent clean energy within 15 years. Constructing the nation's largest offshore wind energy project is momentous and puts New York right where it should be—at the front of the pack. Accelerating our transition to pollution-free energy sources means cleaner air for families, less global warming pollution, more stable electricity bills, and a stronger economy."
A grim new assessment of the world's flora and fungi has found that two-fifths of its species are at risk of extinction as humans encroach on the natural world, as The Guardian reported. That puts the number of species at risk near 140,000.
- Climate Crisis Could Cause a Third of Plant and Animal Species to ... ›
- World Leaders Urged to 'Act Now' to Save Biodiversity - EcoWatch ›
- Bumblebees Face Extinction From the Climate Crisis - EcoWatch ›
- Plant Extinction Is Happening 500x Faster Than Before the Industrial ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
As human activity transforms the atmosphere, flowers are changing their colors.
- The Best Plants to Attract Pollinators, by Region - EcoWatch ›
- Corals Turn Bright Neon in Last-Ditch Effort to Survive - EcoWatch ›
- Hummingbirds Live in a More Colorful World, Study Confirms ... ›
By Sharon Zhang
Back in March, when the pandemic had just planted its roots in the U.S., President Donald Trump directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to do something devastating: The agency was to indefinitely and cruelly suspend environmental rule enforcement. The EPA complied, and for just under half a year, it provided over 3,000 waivers that granted facilities clemency from state-level environmental rule compliance.
A rare celestial event was caught on camera last week when a meteoroid "bounced" off Earth's atmosphere and veered back into space.
- Asteroid Could Strike Earth Before Election Day But Won't Cause ... ›
- Water May Have Originated on Earth, Study Finds - EcoWatch ›
By Bob Jacobs
Hanako, a female Asian elephant, lived in a tiny concrete enclosure at Japan's Inokashira Park Zoo for more than 60 years, often in chains, with no stimulation. In the wild, elephants live in herds, with close family ties. Hanako was solitary for the last decade of her life.
Hanako, an Asian elephant kept at Japan's Inokashira Park Zoo; and Kiska, an orca that lives at Marineland Canada. One image depicts Kiska's damaged teeth. Elephants in Japan (left image), Ontario Captive Animal Watch (right image), CC BY-ND
Affecting Health and Altering Behavior<p>It is easy to observe the overall health and psychological consequences of life in captivity for these animals. Many captive elephants suffer from arthritis, obesity or skin problems. Both <a href="https://doi.org/10.11609/JoTT.o2620.1826-36" target="_blank">elephants</a> and orcas often have severe dental problems. Captive orcas are plagued by <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jveb.2019.05.005" target="_blank">pneumonia, kidney disease, gastrointestinal illnesses and infections</a>.</p><p>Many animals <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2017.09.010" target="_blank">try to cope</a> with captivity by adopting abnormal behaviors. Some develop "<a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2017.05.003" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stereotypies</a>," which are repetitive, purposeless habits such as constantly bobbing their heads, swaying incessantly or chewing on the bars of their cages. Others, especially big cats, pace their enclosures. Elephants rub or break their tusks.</p>
Changing Brain Structure<p>Neuroscientific research indicates that living in an impoverished, stressful captive environment <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jveb.2019.05.005" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">physically damages the brain</a>. These changes have been documented in many <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/cne.903270108" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">species</a>, including rodents, rabbits, cats and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1006/nimg.2001.0917" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">humans</a>.</p><p>Although researchers have directly studied some animal brains, most of what we know comes from observing animal behavior, analyzing stress hormone levels in the blood and applying knowledge gained from a half-century of neuroscience research. Laboratory research also suggests that mammals in a zoo or aquarium have compromised brain function.</p>
This illustration shows differences in the brain's cerebral cortex in animals held in impoverished (captive) and enriched (natural) environments. Impoverishment results in thinning of the cortex, a decreased blood supply, less support for neurons and decreased connectivity among neurons. Arnold B. Scheibel, CC BY-ND<p>Subsisting in confined, barren quarters that lack intellectual stimulation or appropriate social contact seems to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1590/S0001-37652001000200006" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">thin the cerebral cortex</a> – the part of the brain involved in voluntary movement and higher cognitive function, including memory, planning and decision-making.</p><p>There are other consequences. Capillaries shrink, depriving the brain of the oxygen-rich blood it needs to survive. Neurons become smaller, and their dendrites – the branches that form connections with other neurons – become less complex, impairing communication within the brain. As a result, the cortical neurons in captive animals <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/cne.901230110" target="_blank">process information less efficiently</a> than those living in <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/dev.420020208" target="_blank">enriched, more natural environments</a>.</p>
An actual cortical neuron in a wild African elephant living in its natural habitat compared with a hypothesized cortical neuron from a captive elephant. Bob Jacobs, CC BY-ND<p>Brain health is also affected by living in small quarters that <a href="https://doi.org/10.3233/BPL-160040" target="_blank">don't allow for needed exercise</a>. Physical activity increases the flow of blood to the brain, which requires large amounts of oxygen. Exercise increases the production of new connections and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aaw2622" target="_blank">enhances cognitive abilities</a>.</p><p>In their native habits these animals must move to survive, covering great distances to forage or find a mate. Elephants typically travel anywhere from <a href="https://www.elephantsforafrica.org/elephant-facts/#:%7E:text=How%20far%20do%20elephants%20walk,km%20on%20a%20daily%20basis." target="_blank">15 to 120 miles per day</a>. In a zoo, they average <a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0150331" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">three miles daily</a>, often walking back and forth in small enclosures. One free orca studied in Canada swam <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s00300-010-0958-x" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">up to 156 miles a day</a>; meanwhile, an average orca tank is about 10,000 times smaller than its <a href="https://www.cascadiaresearch.org/projects/killer-whales/using-dtags-study-acoustics-and-behavior-southern" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">natural home range</a>.</p>
Disrupting Brain Chemistry and Killing Cells<p>Living in enclosures that restrict or prevent normal behavior creates chronic frustration and boredom. In the wild, an animal's stress-response system helps it escape from danger. But captivity traps animals with <a href="https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1215502109" target="_blank">almost no control</a> over their environment.</p><p>These situations foster <a href="https://doi.org/10.1037/rev0000033" target="_blank">learned helplessness</a>, negatively impacting the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/6391686" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">hippocampus</a>, which handles memory functions, and the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropharm.2011.02.024" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">amygdala</a>, which processes emotions. Prolonged stress <a href="https://doi.org/10.3109/10253899609001092" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">elevates stress hormones</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.10-09-02897.1990" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">damages or even kills neurons</a> in both brain regions. It also disrupts the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2005.03.021" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">delicate balance of serotonin</a>, a neurotransmitter that stabilizes mood, among other functions.</p><p>In humans, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1006/nimg.2001.0917" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">deprivation</a> can trigger <a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2018.00367" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">psychiatric issues</a>, including depression, anxiety, <a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2018.00367" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mood disorders</a> or <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1073858409333072" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">post-traumatic stress disorder</a>. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s00429-010-0288-3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Elephants</a>, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.0050139" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">orcas</a> and other animals with large brains are likely to react in similar ways to life in a severely stressful environment.</p>
Damaged Wiring<p>Captivity can damage the brain's complex circuitry, including the basal ganglia. This group of neurons communicates with the cerebral cortex along two networks: a direct pathway that enhances movement and behavior, and an indirect pathway that inhibits them.</p><p>The repetitive, <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2014.05.057" target="_blank">stereotypic behaviors</a> that many animals adopt in captivity are caused by an imbalance of two neurotransmitters, dopamine and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2010.02.004" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">serotonin</a>. This impairs the indirect pathway's ability to modulate movement, a condition documented in species from chickens, cows, sheep and horses to primates and big cats.</p>
The cerebral cortex, hippocampus and amygdala are physically altered by captivity, along with brain circuitry that involves the basal ganglia. Bob Jacobs, CC BY-ND<p>Evolution has constructed animal brains to be exquisitely responsive to their environment. Those reactions can affect neural function by <a href="https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/311787/behave-by-robert-m-sapolsky/" target="_blank">turning different genes on or off</a>. Living in inappropriate or abusive circumstance alters biochemical processes: It disrupts the synthesis of proteins that build connections between brain cells and the neurotransmitters that facilitate communication among them.</p><p>There is strong evidence that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0577-11.2011" target="_blank">enrichment</a>, social contact and appropriate space in more natural habitats are <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-1090.2003.tb02071.x" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">necessary</a> for long-lived animals with large brains such as <a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0152490" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">elephants</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/13880292.2017.1309858" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cetaceans</a>. Better conditions <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5543669/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reduce disturbing sterotypical behaviors</a>, improve connections in the brain, and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/cdd.2009.193" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">trigger neurochemical changes</a> that enhance learning and memory.</p>