Fox News logo over offshore wind turbines

Molly Butler/Media Matters 

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Right-wing figures are using the cancellation of two offshore wind projects to make misleading claims about renewable energy

  • Right-wing media figures and climate deniers have used the cancellation of two major wind projects that were set to be built off the coast of New Jersey to make misleading claims about renewable energy as a whole. In addition to falsely claiming that there is evidence offshore wind projects are killing whales, they are using the project challenges to misleadingly attack the Biden administration’s climate agenda and argue against renewable energy subsidies. 

    On October 31, Danish global offshore wind developer Orsted announced it would be canceling Ocean Wind 1 and 2, citing high inflation, rising interest rates, and a choked supply chain. 

    Some right-wing media are calling the scrapped projects a “tremendous win for all New Jerseyans,” even though they would have provided 15,000 jobs. Ocean Wind 1 and 2 would have also provided 2.2 gigawatts of electricity to 1 million homes to help meet the Biden administration’s goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030. It would have also helped New Jersey meet its goal of reaching 100% clean energy by 2035.

    Below are some examples of how bad actors spun the setback to deride renewable energy and omitted important facts and context:

  • FALSE CLAIM: The project cancellation is proof that offshore wind energy is not economically viable, which some said shows that Biden's clean energy plan is failing.

    • On Fox & Friends Weekend, frequent guest and climate change denier Marc Morano insisted that the cancellation shows that “the Green New Deal agenda isn’t … sustainable” and “Biden is failing on this green agenda.” “The story isn't as simple as you are hearing from Orsted, the windmill maker. It's not about supply chains — OK, it is a little bit about that. But this is a larger issue. This proves that the Green New Deal agenda isn't even sustainable with hundreds of billions of dollars of federal money this round, with Obama’s round. And what’s happened here is the local politics along the East Coast has had an impact as well. … Biden is failing on this green agenda, and it’s not just the wind. It’s happening in the EV world; it’s happening throughout the entire green agenda. [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 11/4/23]
    • On Fox Business’ The Evening Edit, Forbes Editor-in-Chief Steve Forbes insisted that roadblocks facing offshore wind were due to “subsidizing things that don’t work” rather than inflation. Forbes contended that from the beginning, the offshore wind projects “weren't viable at all,” and said that instead of blaming setbacks on inflation, people should blame them on “the incompetence of doing something that makes no financial sense. We have plenty of energy in this country. Get what we have here instead of subsidizing things that don’t work.” [Fox Business, The Evening Edit, 11/2/23]
    • In a New York Post op-ed, James E. Hanley, who is affiliated with a Koch-connected think tank, wrote of cancelled wind projects that “the renewable-power fantasy is being blown apart.” “If offshore wind had to compete on the free market, we wouldn’t even be talking about it," he wrote. Hanley once wrote an article titled “Green Jobs Are a Cost, Not a Benefit.”  [New York Post, 11/2/23; American Institute for Economic Research, 11/1/21; DeSmog, accessed 11/6/23]
    • Anti-renewable energy activist Michael Shellenberger disputed wind energy isn’t “good for the environment and the economy.” He said: “Experts said wind energy was good for the environment and the economy, but it wasn't. And now, with the cost of wind energy rising, along with industry demands for subsidies, @Orsted has abandoned the projects it had planned to build off the coast of New Jersey. Victory!!!” [Twitter/X, 11/1/23]
    • Fox Digital quoted Daniel Turner of energy group Power The Future, who called offshore wind projects “green dreams.” wrote: “‘When green dreams run into hard reality, the results are never pretty,’ Daniel Turner, founder and executive director of energy group Power The Future, said in a statement. ‘Wind power receives billions in taxpayer support, yet we see project after project failing.’ ‘In this case, it’s the people of New Jersey left holding the bag,’ Turner said.” [, 11/1/23]
  • FACT: Experts see long-term growth for offshore wind energy despite setbacks, and renewable energy is booming thanks in part to Biden’s climate policy.

    • The industry is facing a perfect storm of challenges, some of which are being fueled by the post-pandemic economy and have held up other energy projects as well. Developers first signed fixed-price contracts pre-pandemic and didn’t sufficiently hedge for inflation in costs of steel and other essential materials, as well as rising financing costs due to increased interest rates. [Canary Media, 11/2/23; E&E News, 5/31/23]
    • Offshore wind is still a nascent technology in the U.S. and is experiencing growing pains, but that doesn’t mean it’s failing. Experts say federal regulators have been slow to approve offshore permits, particularly during the Trump administration, which was accused of slow-walking projects. Investment in domestic manufacturing of components, specialized ships needed to install turbines, and the labor force will likely drive down costs in the long term. [E&E News, 11/2/23; Inside Climate News, 8/19/19; Climate Nexus, accessed 11/13/23; Spectrum News, 4/3/23; Utility Dive, 3/6/23]
    • The price of offshore wind fell by 60% between 2010 and 2022, even with price spikes. According to the International Energy Agency, “Although there has been a rise in costs in recent years … which has created difficulties in particular for wind power in some advanced economies, these cost reductions have largely followed anticipated learning rates linked to the scaling up of deployment and technology innovation.” [International Energy Agency, 10/10/23]
    • A recent report found that with more ambitious targets, offshore wind could supply 25% of U.S. electricity while creating nearly 400,000 new jobs. The report was put out by GridLab; the University of California, Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy; and Energy Innovation. A GridLab program manager wrote that “the long-term prospects for offshore wind remain promising as a result of improving technology and falling costs," adding: “Today’s prices spikes are like the early days of land-based solar and wind, which after reaching maturity are now America’s cheapest forms of electricity. Establishing a robust domestic offshore wind supply chain now will drive down prices as more turbines are built, and technological advancements will set the industry up for success.” [Utility Dive, 8/3/23]
    • Other offshore wind projects are still moving forward, including the largest one yet. The Interior Department recently approved the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project, which would power over 900,000 homes and support 1,100 jobs annually once operation begins. [The New York Times, 10/31/23
    • Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act has jump-started investments in clean energy technology. Over a year since the IRA was signed into law, companies have invested more than $350 billion in U.S.-based clean energy projects. In that time, there have also been over 100 new clean-technology manufacturing announcements and nearly $80 billion in private investment. [Canary Media, 8/16/23; American Clean Power Association; accessed 11/6/23
  • FALSE CLAIM: Surveying for offshore wind projects led to a significant spike in whale deaths

    • Right-wing media have been amplifying and echoing renewable energy opponents who are falsely claiming that offshore wind projects are causing a slew of whale deaths off of the East Coast. Specifically, they have claimed, without evidence, that high-resolution geophysical surveying using sonar to map the ocean floor can be directly linked to the spike in whale deaths. [Media Matters, 8/29/23, 10/2/23]
    • Right-wing media have been dishonestly pitting conservationists against clean energy advocates on this issue. In some cases, right-wing media have been amplifying offshore wind opponents with direct ties to the fossil fuel industry, framing them as environmentalists. [Politico, 7/19/23; Media Matters, 2/3/23]
    • Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo: “I thought the Democrats were interested in environmental issues. You’ve got the whales dead and people are blaming these wind farms.” [Fox Business, Mornings With Maria Bartiromo, 11/2/23]
    • Fox host Jesse Watters claimed his show saved the whales from Orsted. Watters said, “Primetime has just scored another big victory. The whales have received a stay of execution along with my beach views. We have been telling you for months how Biden's offshore wind projects are destroying the Jersey shore. … Despite billions in giveaways, the windmill still won't work.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 11/1/23]
    • Just The News claimed that “conservation groups believe that offshore wind development is driving an increase in whale deaths along the East Coast.” [Just The News, 11/1/23]
    • Ryan Maue, a White House scientist under then-President Donald Trump who was fired after promoting climate skepticism, said the cancellation was “excellent news to every sea creature.”  [Twitter/X, 10/31/23; The Hill, 1/12/21]
  • FACT: There is no evidence that offshore wind activities are contributing to the spike in whale deaths on the East Coast.

    • Scientists say there is no evidence that offshore wind is contributing to whale deaths, but fishing gear entanglement, vessel collisions, and the changing migration patterns of whale prey could be contributing. “Scientists who study whale behavior in general say it is impossible to definitively link the strandings to a single cause given the complexity of the ocean, the dramatic changes the North Atlantic has experienced in recent decades, and how much is still unknown about how these changes might be affecting baleen whales,” reports Yale Environment 360. [Yale Environment 360, 3/8/23;, 3/31/23]
    • Some types of sonar can harm marine life – but those technologies are not used for offshore wind surveying. While military sonar and seismic blasting used for oil and gas exploration can harm whales, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has said that sound produced by high-resolution geophysical surveys used by offshore wind energy companies “produce much smaller impact zones because, in general, they have lower noise, higher frequency, and narrower beam-width.” [The Guardian, 7/16/16; The Texas Tribune, 1/17/23; NOAA, accessed 11/10/23]
    • Scientists say climate change is harming whale populations. Scientists say that rapidly rising ocean temperatures are pushing whales’ prey, such as zooplankton and menhaden, closer to shore, putting whales in closer proximity to major shipping channels and pushing them into areas with fewer regulatory protections. [Politico, 7/19/23; The New York Times, 10/25/22]