Trump Administration Delays Offshore Wind Farm To Do More Environmental Reviews

Map: Inside Climate News

Yesterday, in his press conference at the end of the G-7 summit, the President said he would not “lose” our country’s “tremendous wealth … on dreams and windmills, which, frankly, aren’t working too well.”  It seems that his statement was more than just hot air.  Earlier this month, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced that it is expanding its review of the environmental impacts of the Vineyard Wind project off the coast of Massachusetts to include a “more robust” analysis of the potential cumulative impact if other offshore wind farms are built.

Why This Matters:  The Vineyard Wind project will be the first large offshore wind project in the U.S. and it was getting close to final approval when the Trump Administration insisted this extra environmental review, even though the entire purpose of the project is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by bringing more renewable power online.  This decision represents a significant double standard — with fossil fuel drilling, coal mining and pipelines building, for which the Administration has repeatedly loosened the requirements for environmental reviews even though these activities all lead to more greenhouse gas emissions.  And the delays could cause the project to lose important tax incentives to build it that will expire later this year.  Fortunately, the investors in the Vineyard Wind Project remain committed to its completion.  There are legitimate environmental issues to be addressed by the Vineyard Wind developers in order to ensure minimal impacts on the marine environment, but this additional environmental review seems excessive and it is hard to imagine that there will be no political interference by the Trump Administration.

Cumulative Impact Is the Issue

According to Inside Climate News, the environmental review of the project that was completed in February concluded that “the cumulative impact of seven other proposed offshore wind farms … would not pose significant risk to air and water quality and marine life.”

  • Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, told Inside Climate News that “demanding a major expansion after publication of the draft EIS is very unusual and smacks of the sort of bureaucratic impediments to development that Trump campaigned against.”

Other Massachusetts Offshore Wind Projects Still Going Forward

Two developers — Vineyard Wind and Bay State Wind — are currently bidding to develop a second project off the coast of Massachusetts that would provide power to as many as 500,000 homes, create up to 1,200 new jobs to build it, and up to 10,800 direct and indirect jobs over the life of the project.

To Go Deeper: Watch this brilliant rebuttal to the President’s position on wind power from Ida Auken, a Danish Member of Parliament.

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