Why I joined the Congressional Offshore Wind Caucus


Growing up in Island Park, I was always acutely aware of how lucky I was to be surrounded by beautiful beaches, bountiful waterways and stunning coastlines. Preserving Nassau County’s coastal environs has been a main priority of my tenure in public office, and I am proud to represent so many community partners who share in that goal. Indeed, the pristine nature of our South Shore was recently threatened by a large-scale offshore wind turbine project proposed by Equinor, but thanks to unified community opposition, this dubious plan appears to have stalled — for now.

The growing national push to advance offshore wind energy has clearly reached Long Island, and while Equinor’s plan was defeated due to the corporation’s failure to properly liaise with local stakeholders, there will certainly be other developers attempting their own offshore wind projects moving forward.

Now more than ever, it is vital that our communities make their voices heard on any projects that would impact our coastline, which is why I am proud to announce that I have been made a co-chair of the Congressional Offshore Wind Caucus. This bipartisan panel provides members of Congress from across the country a forum to discuss the growing utilization of offshore wind energy, compare notes on offshore wind projects being advanced, and strategize on how best to approach future development questions. What’s more, my leadership role in the caucus also provides neighbors in the 4th District with an enhanced voice when the panel communicates with turbine developers — ensuring that the thoughts, concerns and opinions of South Shore residents are made known.

Those residents have recently seen firsthand the difficulties that stem from a corporate entity outright ignoring the concerns of community stakeholders when developing a large-scale project. Indeed, Equinor failed to engage with residents of the Long Beach barrier island, Island Park, Oceanside and beyond during the development of its Empire Wind 2 offshore wind turbine plan. This lack of engagement justifiably led to distrust among community members, and fueled the successful grass-roots campaign to quash the project.

Like my neighbors along the South Shore, over the course of several meetings, Equinor representatives failed to provide me with adequate information on the long-term environmental impacts of the project or outline a proper plan to support the communities that would have hosted facets of Empire Wind 2 — which is why I fought to stop the project from moving forward.

Now that Equinor appears to have realized the error of its ways and pulled back from its offshore wind plan, we have seen growing interest from several other developers seeking to take Equinor’s place. As the selection process plays out and companies vie for a chance to develop offshore wind energy in Nassau County, it is vital that stakeholders have a say in project advancement, residents’ wishes are respected, and local communities’ bests interests are advanced. If a company can articulate a vision for an offshore wind energy project that safeguards our environment, incorporates robust stakeholder feedback into the development process, benefits the community, and creates good union jobs, I believe it is beneficial for the public to hear them out and approach the plan with an open mind. I intend to utilize my position on the Congressional Offshore Wind Caucus to hold corporate developers accountable by demanding full transparency on any proposed projects that come before the community.

I will continue to utilize all the tools at my disposal to advocate for the best interests of South Shore neighbors and ensure that our communities are not negatively impacted by overdevelopment. My position as co-chair of the bipartisan caucus will give our community a stronger voice in that arena, and ensure that any proposed plans include real benefits for the South Shore. Long gone are the days when developers like Equinor thought they could simply muscle their way past community opposition. We won’t allow it.

Anthony D’Esposito represents the 4th Congressional District.