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Houston, We Have An “Air Draft” Problem

Huge Blunder On Port Paulsboro Wind

A Sad Tale Of Powerbrokers

Yours truly debates NJ Senate President Sweeney (Earth Day 2005)

Yours truly debates NJ Senate President Sweeney (Earth Day 2005)

This morning, Democracy Now! had an extended interview with Robert Caro (listen), Pulitzer Prize winning author of, among other things, a series of biographies on LBJ, and a magnificent book on Robert Moses, “The Powerbroker”.

Caro shared one of the more outrageous and revealing stories about Moses:

In one of the book’s most memorable passages, Caro reveals that Moses ordered his engineers to build the bridges low over the parkway to keep buses from the city away from Jones Beach—buses presumably filled with the poor blacks and Puerto Ricans Moses despised.

Moses knew how high the bridges needed to be.

I was reminded of the bridge height aspect of that Moses story last week, after reading NJ Spotlight’s story touting:

port facilities across New Jersey that could function as hubs for economic growth as part of the Murphy administration’s ambitious agenda to create a robust offshore-wind industry.

The Spotlight story highlighted huge wind related investments already made in the port of Paulsboro:

More than $200 million already has been invested to upgrade the port of Paulsboro, a decision that has made it one of the likely choices to host some offshore-wind segments, advocates say.

I got a belly laugh out of that one – I Tweeted, calling it Magical Thinking – having already looked into and written about the failure of the Paulsboro Port to produce the jobs that were forecast, particularly wind manufacturing jobs, see:

If I might digress for a moment on the Russian angle – in addition to the failure to produce jobs and the Russian steel imports issues, like Bob Moses, the Russians also know how high the bridge needs to be (Wiki):

Ukraine has alleged that the bridge is being used by Russia as part of a creeping hybrid blockade of Ukrainian ports in the Azov Sea, …. The main span of the bridge is 33 to 35 metres (108 to 115 ft) above sea level; many ships are too tall to pass safely under the bridge

But let’s get back to our NJ story, and look at jobs and ask whether NJ economic development planners also know how high the bridges need to be.

In addition to the failure of over $200 million in taxpayer dollars invested in the port of Paulsboro to attract investment and produce the projected wind manufacturing jobs, the NJ Spotlight story flagged a huge planning blunder:

The sheer size of the wind turbines brings other challenges; the huge turbines are expected to be shipped offshore upright, making it easier to assemble them offshore. That would preclude using ports that necessitate having to ferry the turbines under the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge or the Delaware Memorial Bridge because the turbines would be too tall to make it through.

The port of Paulsboro is located on the Delaware River, upriver of the Delaware Memorial Bridge, and therefore essentially “precluded” from being NJ’s wind manufacturing jobs hub as a result of the “air draft” issue.


How could NJ Senate president Sweeney (the puppet of South Jersey “powerbroker” George Norcross)  – who twisted arms in Trenton to secure that $200 million and assured the public that wind jobs were coming to Paulsboro – have not considered the air draft issue?

Sweeney repeatedly fed this narrative:

The port will be designed to handle various cargos. For example, wind turbines—a proposed tenant—could arrive at the port for assembly and ship back out fully constructed. South Jersey Biz (February 2012)

“The New Jersey Energy Link will help move New Jersey on a path towards greater grid reliability and lower power costs,” said Assemblyman John J. Burzichelli. “This feasibility study shows what the South Jersey Port Corporation has been working so hard on for years, to make the Paulsboro Marine Terminal a driving force for creating jobs and becoming a manufacturing hub for the offshore wind industry for the state.” NJ Biz: (April 2013)

Gov. Christie is gone, so there’s no one for Sweeney to blame now.

Last week, the NJ Spotlight wind story quoted a former McKinsely Man. He now works for former Goldman Sachs executive Gov. Murphy.  And, whether or not he knows anything about wind, he clearly knows which way the political winds blow in South Jersey. He says there’s no problem:

“Paulsboro is one of the small handful of sites ready for the offshore wind industry despite the air draft issue,” said Brian Sabina, senior vice president for economic transformation for the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. (The “air draft issue” refers to the inability of the turbines, when vertical, to clear under bridges or high-power transmission lines.)


The answer my friend, is blown’ in the wind.

The answer is blown’ in the wind.


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