For the Wind
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Wednesday announced an "ambitious road map" to developing wind farms along most of the U.S. coastline, leasing plots for seven major offshore wind farms by 2025. The leases off Maine, New York, California, Oregon, the Carolinas, the Mid-Atlantic States, and the Gulf of Mexico would host windmills that generate a combined 30,000 megawatts of power by 2030, avert 78 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, and create up to 77,000 jobs, the White House says.
The plan advances President Biden's "plans to confront climate change, create good-paying jobs, and accelerate the nation's transition to a cleaner energy future," Haaland said. "This timetable provides two crucial ingredients for success: increased certainty and transparency. Together, we will meet our clean energy goals while addressing the needs of other ocean users and potentially impacted communities." She added that the Interior Department is also working with other federal agencies to generate at least 25,000 megawatts of solar and wind power on public lands by 2025.
Biden's big push for offshore wind power is likely to run into resistance from the commercial fishing industry, coastal landowners, and offshore oil and gas companies in the Gulf of Mexico who see "wind energy as a threat to not only their local operations but their entire business model," The New York Times reports. Some environmental groups are also wary of how wind farms affect birds and other ocean life. Wind energy supporters and environmental groups welcomed the plan.
Amanda Lefton, director of Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, said the Biden administration "will engage early and often with all stakeholders prior to identifying any new wind energy areas." And Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced $11.5 million to study how wind farms may affect birds, bats, marine animals, and commercial fisheries. "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," she said.
The wind farm plan was announced amid "an energy crisis around the world" nestled inside "a perfect storm of crises," Axios reports. "A combination of weather-related issues (many of which are related to climate change), unexpected demand, and planned outages has sent natural gas and coal prices through the roof," and the "global energy transition to renewables" just "hasn't come soon enough."