WILDWOOD, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Inside the packed Wildwood Convention Center, hundreds of people gathered for a hearing on Thursday about offshore wind projects in their pre-construction stages.
The hearing was held by Republican New Jersey Congressman Jeff Van Drew. He was joined by fellow Republican Congressmen Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), and Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA).
Van Drew remains highly critical of the developments, calling for a moratorium, or a temporary postponement of the initiative.
This event was the second open meeting this week on the shore that garnered large crowds.
Whales washing up dead on the New Jersey beaches is driving more people to question wind projects.
"Since December, just on the Jersey coast, we've encountered nine whale strandings in a three-month period. The annual average is seven," noted Bob Stern, Ph.D., the former director of the Office of Environmental Compliance at the U.S. Department of Energy.
Despite growing concerns, no connection has been proven between wind turbines and dead whales.
The topic has some environmental groups at odds with each other. The nonprofit group, Clean Ocean Action, is pushing for an independent investigation into whale deaths.
"While some offshore wind may show promise, this is too much, too fast," said Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action. "Marine life is being put at grave risk without scientific due diligence."
The New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, a nonpartisan group that focuses on electing people who will protect the environment, spoke at Van Drew's hearing.
The group cited eight statewide environmental groups that all agree with one another, that there are other factors negatively impacting the whales.
"Entanglements from fishing gear, strikes from boats, plastics, and climate change, those are some of the main factors," noted James Thompson from the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters.
Overall, 178 Humpback whales have died from Maine to Florida since 2016.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration agrees that it's an unusual mortality level we've seen this year, but many of the deaths pre-date offshore wind energy activity.
Van Drew says that currently, he is organizing a hearing on this topic that will be held in Washington D.C.