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The Wrap: Wind Wars Intensify, Drug Shortages Worsening, Conserve Water

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By Herald Staff

Get ‘The Wrap,’ our take on the news of the week, in your inbox every Tuesday. Sign up at https://bit.ly/HeraldNewsletters.    

June 1925   

Wind Wars Intensify  

The struggle to halt the construction of Ocean Wind I has intensified in Cape May County. The county has hired an additional law firm to “review and prepare challenges” as the project moves through the remaining federal permitting process. Another firm has been brought on board “to advance the interest of historical resources.” Electronic signs are broadcasting opposition to the offshore wind initiative on county roads. The county has even invited stakeholders to consider filing “friend of the court” briefs in support of countyled litigation.  

County officials held a virtual “information session, June 24, aimed at providing a focused presentation of the county’s many concerns with offshore wind. Just days earlier, June 16, three nonprofit groups announced a suit against the state Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) recent ruling that the Ocean Wind I project is consistent with the state’s coastal management regulations.  

Within the county, 10 of the 16 municipalities have formally passed resolutions of support for actions opposing offshore wind development. Now, even the small back bay community of West Wildwood is being urged to join those municipalities by one of its commissioners. 

Meanwhile, the courts handed the Danish firm Ørsted an early victory by ordering Ocean City to issue permits needed by Ørsted to test city streets that will be traversed by its transmission cables.  

The county position is that its considered objections to the offshore wind project do not signify a rejection of climate change. Officials at the virtual information session claimed repeatedly that the county’s actions are not motivated by partisan politics.   

Drug Shortages Worsening  

While many eyes are on the battle over offshore turbines, a national drug shortage is getting worse, placing the lives of patients on the line. The shortages of critical medications for a variety of ailments from cancer treatment to controlling ADHD are stressing families across the Garden State and beyond. 

Experts say the shortages are due to a complex set of factors making resolution of the problem difficult. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) drug shortage database lists page after page of drugs “currently in shortage.” Many of the experts point to supply chain issues that give visibility to the nation’s dependence on medicines and drug ingredients from India and China. The American Cancer Society has warned that continued delays could result in worse outcomes for patients. 

In a report to Congress, Dr. Robert Califf, FDA commissioner, said, “Our employees can only plug a certain amount of holes in a system that has real problems.” 

Reports say that hospitals are already paying more for certain drugs and the economics of the shortages are still in flux.  

In February, Akorn Pharma abruptly shut down its operations to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The company was the only firm to make an antidote for lead poisoning.  

In another instance of the problemIntas Pharmaceuticals, an Indian firm, recently interrupted manufacturing of key drugs like the cancer drug cisplatin when the FDA found serious quality control violations.  

A March report from the Senate Committee on Homeland Security noted that almost 80% of the companies producing active pharmaceutical ingredients are located outside the U.S.  

In a May statement, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6th) called the shortages “unacceptable.”   

Conserve Water  

Last month was one of the driest Mays on record in New Jersey. The fear is the state is slipping back into drought conditions 

Several areas of the state, including almost 80% of Cape May County, have been designated abnormally dry or worse. One-third of the Garden State is now in moderate drought.  

The DEP issued an appeal to the public to conserve water as the state continues to experience “persistent dry weather” headed into the hot summer months. The state climatologist warned, “Should rainfall remain below normal and hotter weather arrive, drought will likely emerge.”  

The state’s water supply indicators are starting to show warning signs of stress. Some of the state’s reservoirs are also at below average levels 

Cape May County could avoid drought conditions with more rain even though the summer tourist season is when many in the county ask for less.  

Happenings 

Stone Harbor residents and visitors saw a sharp uptake in parking tickets, with May 2023 generating 564 compared to 33 in May 2022. The rise is due to the new parking app one must use to park almost anywhere in the busy areas of the town. The app makes parking easy and enforcement easier. 

Cape May approved a change to its historic design standards. A new publication consolidating 20 years of ordinance changes will be available in book form and eventually online, as well. 

Middle Township adopted an ordinance banning temporary structures, a change many see as directed at the homeless encampments in Rio Grande.  

Ocean City appointed an interim superintendent of education. The school board in the city has been involved in a struggle with the state over curriculum changes. Meanwhile,Wildwood Middle/High School announced the appointment of a new principal.  

Tourism is back better than everwas the message state tourism officials gave the county chamber. Statistics show 2022 was a banner year. The message comes as the county predicts a major tourism hit if the planned wind farms are built offshore. 

The primary elections produced some surprises, with a governing body incumbent losing party support in Stone Harbor and a write-in victory producing a Democratic candidate for county surrogate. 

The Stone Harbor Country Club was acquired by a national golf group, making it the latest familyrun business in the county to go corporate. 

Cape May and Stone Harbor are both in the market for a new fire truck, with each community showing a very different view for how long such equipment should remain in service before replacement. 

A presentation by the Joint Insurance Fund (JIF) in Cape May gave a glimpse of the “hardening” of the property insurance market as major disasters occur more frequently. One factoid from the presentation noted a $1 billion loss event has occurred on average every three weeks since the start of 2022. 

Members of Boy Scout Troop 73, West Cape May, and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 386, Cape May, participated in a flag retirement ceremony on Flag Day, June 14. 

Complaints about profane flags being flown on Wildwood Crest beaches are now an issue for the municipality’s governing body. At what point do such displays lose the protection of free speech? 

Lower Township renewed the liquor license for the Sunset Beach Sportsmen’s Club in the face of the expected opposition from the state. 

A judge threw out the indictment of three Wildwood officials, including the current mayor and former mayor. The three were accused of illegally benefiting from the state’s health insurance benefits. The attorney general must now decide if he will move to reindict. 

Spout Off of the Week 

Middle Township – Can anyone explain, without ‘what abouts’ how public display of obscene language on flags, signs and bumper stickers is making America great? 

Read morespoutsatspoutoff.capemaycountyherald.com.        

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