Biden’s Cabinet Talks Big Plans for Offshore Wind Power

by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer

Yesterday, National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg met with state officials, industry executives, and labor leaders to announce a set of actions to significantly expand offshore wind.

The new leasing, funding, and goals will emphasize the Biden administration’s whole-of-government approach to fighting climate change and bolstering the U.S. economy with a clean energy revolution. This specific plan would generate 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030, enough to meet the demand of more than 10 million American homes for a year, and avoid 78 million metric tons of CO2 emissions.

Why This Matters: In his first week in office, President Biden issued an executive order, outlining his priorities for climate action and renewable energy expansion. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the United States has enough offshore wind capacity potential to double the nation’s current electricity use. The administration’s most recent announcement seeks to harness this potential by creating domestic supply chains, focusing on union jobs, and adequately examining the environmental implications of these projects while also funding innovation. 

The announcement was almost unanimously applauded by environmental and clean energy groups for its ambition and carefully considered scope. 

 

Step by Step: The very robust plan includes the following policy priorities across several federal agencies:

  • The Departments of Interior (DOI), Energy (DOE), and Commerce (DOC) are announcing a shared goal to deploy 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind in the United States by 2030, while protecting biodiversity and promoting ocean co-use. Meeting this target will trigger more than $12 billion per year in capital investment in projects on both U.S. coasts.
  • BOEM is announcing a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Ocean Wind, putting it in line to become America’s third commercial-scale offshore wind project, after Vineyard Wind in Massachusetts and South Fork in Rhode Island.
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Maritime Administration today is announcing a Notice of Funding Opportunity for port authorities and other applicants to apply for $230 million for port and intermodal infrastructure-related projects through the Port Infrastructure Development Program.
  • DOE’s Loan Programs Office (LPO) released a fact sheet to facilitate access for the offshore wind industry for $3 billion in funding through LPO’s Title XVII Innovative Energy Loan Guarantee Program.
  • The National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium (NOWRDC), created by the DOE and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), is announcing the award of $8 million to 15 offshore wind research and development projects that were selected through a competitive process.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is signing a Memorandum of Agreement with Ørsted, an offshore wind development company, to share physical and biological data in Ørsted-leased waters subject to U.S. jurisdiction. This agreement is the first of its kind between an offshore wind developer and NOAA, and paves the way for future data-sharing agreements that NOAA expects to enter into with other developers.
  • NOAA’s Northeast Sea Grant programs, in partnership with DOE, DOC, and NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, is releasing a request for research proposals to support more than $1 million in grant funding to improve understanding of offshore renewable energy for the benefit of a diversity of stakeholders, including fishing and coastal communities.

Cabinet members emphasized that in addition to these steps, federal and private sector partnerships, as well as partnerships with unions and other key stakeholders, will be crucial in revolutionizing America’s energy infrastructure. Already, some states and cities have begun efforts to work with oil companies and renewable energy companies to transition former fossil fuel communities by creating jobs training and other transitional programs.

We’re going to send…a gust of growth reaching from coast to coast,” said Secretary Granholm. “DOE is going to marshal every resource we have to get as many American companies, using as many sheets of American steel, employing as many American workers as possible in offshore wind energy.”

Other cabinet members repeated this sentiment, including Secretary Haaland, who also emphasized the urgency to take action against climate change. “Every community is facing more extreme weather and the costs associated with that. But not every community has the resources to rebuild…As our country faces the interlocking challenges of a global pandemic, economic downturn, racial injustice, and the climate crisis – we have to transition to a brighter future for everyone.”

 

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