House Republicans are calling for a commission to study the effects of wind turbines on marine life in Rhode Island. Representatives Sherry Roberts, Justin Price, and Robert Nardolillo are urging fellow lawmakers to support the initiative. The representatives are renewing their calls for a study commission in light of Deepwater Wind’s recent announcement of plans to expand the offshore wind farm off the Rhode Island coast.

The legislation, sponsored by Representative Sherry Roberts, was introduced in February. Since then, the new $250-million Revolution Wind project was announced. The scale of the project has heightened unease about potential environmental damage from the turbines. The bill would establish a five-member study commission to investigate the effects of wind turbines on marine life in Rhode Island.

Representative Roberts commented, saying: “The Governor seems to have a double standard when it comes to the environment. She is touting temporary jobs at the potential expense of our environment and fishing industry. We must be careful not to destroy our coastal ecosystem. Everything from the construction of turbines to the electrical fields from their cables could have long-lasting effects on marine life.”

Studies have shown that off shore wind farms can negatively affect marine mammals and migratory sea birds including those indigenous to the Rhode Island coast. Fishing industry leaders have also raised concerns about the effects of wind turbines on state fish stocks. Fishermen are critical to Rhode Island, contributing over $200 million to the state economy each year.

“Everyone should benefit from large energy projects like Revolution Wind. The proposed study commission will offer experts and state lawmakers an opportunity to discuss the broader, long-term implications of offshore wind farms in Rhode Island. I am confident that there are solutions to both protect our environment and build sustainable energy infrastructure,” continued Rep. Roberts.

Representative Justin Price anticipates the project will have negative repercussions for commercial fishermen: “As a former fisherman, I understand the worries of the local fishing community. They are concerned that the offshore wind project could threaten their main income source. It is incumbent on the legislature to study this project’s environmental impact before sacrificing our bountiful fishing industry for what may amount to few permanent jobs.”

“The ocean is a bountiful source of food and jobs for Rhode Islanders and it is important that we do everything we can to protect it. Visitors come from around the country to our state for its natural beauty and seafood. Both of these essential characteristics of our state could be at risk with the expansion of wind farms. This study commission will help determine how we can continue producing sustainable energy while protecting our precious marine life,” said Representative Robert Nardolillo, a longtime supporter of the fishing industry.

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