The U.S. Wants to Turn Both Coasts Into Massive Offshore Windfarms

The Biden administration wants to lease federal waters off of all American coasts for major windfarming projects.
October 15, 2021, 1:00pm
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The Biden administration is planning a rapid buildout of offshore wind turbines along the U.S. coastline. 

At a wind power industry conference in Boston on Wednesday, Deb Haaland, Secretary of the Interior, announced her intention to begin leasing federal waters off the east coast of the Mid-Atlantic, North and South Carolina, the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf of Maine, California and Oregon to wind power developers by 2025. 

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“The Interior Department is laying out an ambitious road map as we advance the administration’s plans to confront climate change, create good-paying jobs, and accelerate the nation’s transition to a cleaner energy future,” Haaland said. “We have big goals to achieve a clean energy economy and Interior is meeting the moment.”

The agency will begin by searching for leasable waters in which to create seven major commercial offshore wind farms, meeting a White House directive to substantially build out wind technology and establish well-paying clean jobs. In March, president Biden announced plans to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power (enough to power more than 10-million U.S. homes for a year) by 2030, employing 44,000 people along the way. This would prevent 78 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, the administration wrote in the announcement, creating more than $12-billion in capital investment.

Part of this plan included creating a “new wind energy area” off the coast of Long Island and New Jersey — a region that has long been eyed by local legislators for green energy development. The Interior is currently reviewing projects in these areas, the Associated Press reported Wednesday. The South Fork wind farm, near Long Island, is expected to produce 132 megawatts of energy, while Ocean Wind, off New Jersey, will produce 1,100 megawatts, enough to power 500,000 homes across New Jersey.

On the same day, the Department of Energy announced its plan to devote $11.5-million to studying the environmental risks of offshore wind turbines, including impacts for birds, bats and marine mammals. 

“In order for Americans living in coastal areas to see the benefits of offshore wind, we must ensure that it’s done with care for the surrounding ecosystem by coexisting with fisheries and marine life – and that’s exactly what this investment will do,″ Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a news release.

The announcements come as thousands of environmental activists have taken to the White House to protest the development of fossil fuels, including Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline carrying tar sands from Alberta to Wisconsin, through rice-growing land in Northern Minnesota. On Thursday, dozens of activists held a sit-in in the the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs to urge Haaland to pull permits on Line 3.