Center for American Progress

The Truth About Offshore Wind: Busting Oil Money Myths and Misinformation

The Truth About Offshore Wind: Busting Oil Money Myths and Misinformation

Misinformation and falsehoods about offshore wind are running rampant online and in legislatures; here’s what they get wrong.

A wind turbine generates electricity at Rhode Island’s Block Island Wind Farm.
A wind turbine generates electricity at Rhode Island’s Block Island Wind Farm—the first commercial offshore wind farm in the United States—on July 7, 2022. (Getty/John Moore)

In February of this year, a whale washed up on a Manasquan, New Jersey, beach—the ninth whale death in the region since early December 2022. Headlines quickly spread, recharging arguments that the offshore wind projects off the state’s coast were to blame. Soon, members of Congress—including Reps. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ), Chris Smith (R-NJ), and Andy Harris (R-MD)—were booking hearings to air their grievances with the offshore wind industry. Mere days after the whale was found, however, reports quietly came forward that it had likely been hit by a ship. Such misinformation has become increasingly common in the Northeast when it comes to offshore wind, with the truth often coming after false narratives have already developed.

Big businesses such as Seafreeze Shoreside Inc., a major seafood processor, and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, an industry group representing large fossil fuel companies, appear to have a vested interest in stopping the growth of offshore wind. Offshore wind opponents may be appealing to the distrust that some communities have of this brand-new industry appearing along their coastlines. The reality is that the offshore wind sector is a major jobs creator and an important tool in reducing greenhouse gas emissions; yet misinformation campaigns aim to drive public opinion against clean energy development by spreading falsehoods and misinformation.

Offshore wind energy generation stands to be one of the best tools in the clean energy transition, moving the United States away from carbon-intensive energy generation and toward a cleaner, safer future.

The various organizations, news outlets, and elected representatives that have been promoting misinformation about offshore wind have two things in common: 1) conservative politics and 2) ties to the oil industry. Seemingly locally run nonprofits have been leading public anti-offshore wind campaigns, purportedly out of concern about the dangers offshore wind farms present to whales and local economies. Yet many of these same organizations have proven ties to major conservative lobbyist groups funded by “Big Oil.” Meanwhile, both local and congressional conservative politicians have jumped on these misinformation campaigns, especially in the Northeast, where the first offshore wind farms are set to be constructed this year. This is despite several state and national polls showing that Americans overwhelmingly support the construction of offshore wind farms.

Quelling the anxieties of concerned citizens is important to the rapid deployment of offshore wind in meeting—and surpassing—President Joe Biden’s goal of reaching 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore power by 2030. This article identifies the truth behind the most common falsehoods being spread by anti-offshore wind advocates.

Learn more about offshore wind

Offshore wind development and construction is not harming whales and dolphins

Myth: With whale strandings and deaths increasing along the Atlantic coast, many organizations, media outlets, elected officials, and social media pages have placed the blame on offshore wind farms. They claim that the underwater noise generated during project surveying is so intense that it is harming nearby marine mammals; as one Fox News contributor put it, offshore wind is “essentially carpet bombing the ocean floor with intense sound.” The noise, so the idea goes, disrupts the whales’ ability to communicate and echolocate, causing them to become disoriented—leading to strandings and death.

There are no data to support claims that the recent increase in whale deaths is being directly caused by new offshore wind surveying activity. More than 190 humpback whale deaths have been observed since January 2016, causing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to declare an ongoing unusual mortality event. The largest share of identifiable causes of death—40 percent—are fatal ship-strike injuries and fishing net entanglement, while exactly zero whale deaths have been attributed to noise from offshore wind surveys.

Offshore wind survey vessels use considerably lower-powered acoustic seafloor mapping equipment than the extremely harmful seismic air guns used by the offshore oil and gas industry. Furthermore, the same offshore wind survey equipment has been used for decades to plan port dredging and seafloor mapping without significant impacts on whale populations. The U.S. Bureau of Offshore Energy Management also mandates strict regulations on offshore wind survey vessels for the safety of protected marine species. For instance, onboard observers ensure activity stops immediately if a marine mammal or sea turtle is spotted entering the areas being surveyed.

Exactly zero whale deaths have been attributed to noise from offshore wind surveys.

The real reason behind the recent spike in whale deaths may simply be that there are more whales, as coastal conservation efforts have played a crucial role in the recovery of whale populations. Unfortunately, these successes may be contributing to the increase in ship strikes, as many now-bustling ports and shipping lanes overlap with recovering whale populations. Climate change is also likely affecting whale migration patterns and putting them in harm’s way. There are ongoing efforts to reduce the risk of ship strikes for some species; however, ship strikes and other factors, such as fishing net entanglement, remain a conservation challenge.

The observed recovery of whale populations through coastal restoration efforts is still a positive sign for their future, indicating that they can recover if stressors are addressed.

Offshore turbines will not cause coastal tourism-based economies to decline

Myth: Both local and national organizations have been parroting unfounded predictions about how coastal tourism-based economies will be irreparably harmed by the construction of offshore wind farms. According to these claims, unsightly turbines will tower over the horizon and ruin beachside views, causing tourists to seek out other beaches with unobstructed views. Notably, many coastal communities largely depend on tourism revenue during summer months to sustain themselves, and wind opponents argue that offshore turbines will drive tourists to spend their money elsewhere.

Despite claims of impending turbine-shy beach tourism, any negative impacts of visible wind turbines on beach tourism are, at best, half-truths. While surveys have found that some potential visitors could be deterred by wind farms, they are significantly more likely to return if turbines are at least eight miles offshore—which is true for nearly all planned offshore wind farms in the United States, with many twice or even three times further out. Large-scale wind farms already exist along European coastlines, and nearby coastal communities have, if anything, seen economic growth due to new turbine construction, deployment, and maintenance industries through their ports.

Furthermore, turbine tourism is a rapidly growing industry in its own right, as curious visitors want close-up views of the towering yet distant ocean powerhouses. The Scroby Sands Wind Farm in the United Kingdom, for example, attracts more than 35,000 annual visitors, while Germany’s Stiftung Offshore-Windenergie sees 29,000 visitors aboard its wind turbine tourism ship every year. Even Rhode Island’s comparatively small five-turbine Block Island Wind Farm—currently the only fully operational offshore wind farm in the United States and significantly closer to shore than most planned wind developments—has similarly driven significantly positive tourism impacts, even among tourists who did not know about the wind farm before visiting.

Coastal home prices will not decline because of offshore wind farms

Myth: Claims that coastal home values will decrease due to offshore wind are often paired with other pieces of coastal economy misinformation. Potential beachfront home buyers, like potential beach tourists, prefer 100 percent unobstructed ocean views. Therefore, wind opponents claim that after the construction of an offshore wind farm, demand for adjacent homes will plummet, bringing down property values with it.

Coastal home purchase prices in Europe have been found to be entirely unaffected by wind farms deployed at distances comparable to those planned for American waters. While prices do rise and fall with the larger housing market, coastal homes retain higher prices after the construction of a nearby offshore wind farm, compared with more inland properties.

While a very small number of potential buyers may be deterred by being able to see the lazy rotation of a distant turbine, American coastal home values are expected to be unaffected by wind energy developments, both on- and offshore.

Offshore wind farms will not meaningfully affect fishery catch

Myth: Representatives of the fishing industry claim that the construction and operation of large offshore wind farms will hurt regional fisheries. The turbines, they claim, will drive many target species away, resulting in significantly reduced catch volume. Furthermore, the wind farms are taking up prime fishery space and forcing fishing fleets to compete in smaller spaces. The shellfish industry, in particular, argues that planned offshore wind farms are in the best trapping and dredging zones and that clean energy development is displacing them to less productive waters.

Around the world, there are examples of fishery fleets and offshore wind farms sharing space, and these interactions have driven novel policy solutions that are proving useful for U.S. applications. NOAA is pulling from the European Union’s extensive experience negotiating between offshore wind development and fishery operations to develop solutions that minimize fishery losses and displacement from historic fishing grounds.

Lobster fishermen have already been involved in guiding amenable policy solutions and providing fishing data for offshore wind siting in lobster fishing zones in the United Kingdom, and similar efforts have been started in the United States. Nine Atlantic states also plan to create a fisheries compensation fund to mitigate potential losses caused by offshore wind. While no federal standards currently exist for such a fund, these states plan to work together with fishing industry stakeholders to create an equitable system.

Any potential fishery losses resulting from wind energy development will be quite small compared with those that will occur as a result of climate change, further emphasizing the need for a clean energy transition.

Offshore wind farms may also be able to coexist with fisheries. Existing wind farms off European coastlines have already shown some promise in supporting the life cycles of at least two commercially important species, including for reproduction and feeding. In wind farms that overlap with productive lobster fishing areas off the coast of the United Kingdom, lobster fishing has continued and even thrived due to the temporary pause in fishing and the no-catch protected areas immediately around the turbines.

On a macro scale, any potential fishery losses resulting from wind energy development will be quite small compared with those that will occur as a result of climate change, further emphasizing the need for a clean energy transition.

Wind turbines are not wasteful and have long life spans

Myth: Although the organized anti-offshore wind campaigns have not seized on the myth of short turbine life spans, it nevertheless remains a perennial concern. The misinformation varies from turbines producing less energy after federal subsidies run out to simply falling apart, resulting in mountains of toxic old turbine parts filling up landfills.

Wind turbines, especially offshore turbines, are built to last. Designed to withstand extreme environmental conditions, they have an average life span of 20 to 25 years. While that durability affords the turbines long life spans, it also makes old components difficult to break down and recycle. Until recently, this meant that many turbine parts, especially blades, often ended their lives in landfills.

Today, wind turbine recycling and upcycling is an active area of research and policy focus, with strong investment from the U.S. Department of Energy. More than 80 percent of turbine components can already be recycled or reused, and new upcycling technology shows strong potential for further reducing turbine waste from conventional turbine blades. New-generation turbines with recyclable blades are also showing strong industry and electricity-consumer interest.

See also


While the offshore wind industry ramps up development activities along the East Coast, misinformation about wind farms has become increasingly rampant. Many of these fabrications, including bombastic stories about dead whales, collapsing tourism economies, and fishery slumps, are generating headlines, clicks, and oil-driven partisan campaigns.

Yet the reality of offshore wind is much simpler and less nefarious than these coordinated misinformation campaigns make it out to be: Offshore wind is environmentally friendly and, when designed thoughtfully with robust stakeholder engagement, can be compatible with the fishing, tourism, and real estate industries. Moreover, it is not likely to create significant waste. Marine life can also be protected during survey activities if appropriate mitigation and monitoring requirements are in place.

In fact, offshore wind energy generation stands to be one of the best tools in the clean energy transition, moving the United States away from carbon-intensive energy generation and toward a cleaner, safer future.

The author would like to thank Jennifer Rowland-Shea, Mike Williams, Angelo Villagomez, Kat So, Steve Bonitatibus, Francine Kershaw, and Alison Chase for their contributions to this article.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.


Michael Freeman

Former Policy Analyst


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