Boston — With critical federal tax incentives set to expire on December 31, a coalition of more than 230 organizations, businesses and elected officials from Atlantic Coast states, including Environment Massachusetts, National Wildlife Federation, Conservation Law Foundation, and Mass Audubon, urged the Obama administration to take swift, bold action to facilitate the development of offshore wind projects like Cape Wind.
In a letter sent today, the organizations lauded the administration’s efforts to date to foster offshore wind as an alternative to America’s fossil-fueled power plants, the largest single source of climate-altering carbon pollution. Extreme weather’s impacts have hit close to home recently — Superstorm Sandy alone cost over $70 billion in damages in addition to the immeasurable impact on lives lost, injuries, and livelihoods ruined. Climate change is hitting close to home in Massachusetts as rising sea levels and storms surges threaten the state’s treasured coastline.
“Hurricane Sandy is but one of many recent examples of the more frequent extreme weather that climate change will bring. To avoid the worst impacts of global warming, we need to shift away from energy that threatens our climate with carbon,” said Rob Sargent, of Environment Massachusetts. “Harnessing the wind that blows off our coasts can play an essential role reducing climate-altering carbon pollution.”
Supporters pointed to the clear benefits of offshore wind as reason for state and federal officials to support incentives critical for launching a new offshore wind industry in Massachusetts and along the Atlantic coast. In November, Environment Massachusetts released a report showing the growth in Massachusetts wind energy by 2018 could reduce carbon emissions as much as taking 130,000 cars off the road.
“Climate change is the single the biggest threat to America’s wildlife this century, and properly-sited offshore wind power is an essential part of the solution,” said National Wildlife Federation’s Senior Energy & Climate Manager Catherine Bowes. “Our ability to fight climate change and repower America with pollution-free energy hinges on bold action from our federal and state leaders. Congress must renew the offshore wind investment tax credit (ITC) immediately to jumpstart this critical new clean energy source for America.”
“We in the Northeast are the largest consumers and lowest producers of electric power in America, while having some of the nation’s dirtiest air. With ten gigawatts of reliable, clean energy just offshore, it is time for the Obama Administration to step up its efforts at making offshore wind energy a reality,” said Jack Clarke, director of public policy and government relations for Mass Audubon.
America can create hundreds of thousands of jobs while powering our homes and businesses with local, clean energy, but only if our elected officials and regulators take the right steps now, according to a report released last year by the National Wildlife Federation, Environment America, and 45 partner organizations along the Atlantic Coast. The Turning Point for Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy: Time for Action to Create Jobs, Reduce Pollution, Protect Wildlife & Secure America’s Energy Future details the economic and environmental benefits of offshore wind energy, the progress made to-date, potential obstacles to that progress, and a prosperous path forward.
“Offshore wind is the largest available resource to make the transformation to clean energy”, said Jonathan Peress, Director of Conservation Law Foundation’s Clean Energy and Climate Program. “Tapping into this resource will also enhance energy security and provide economic benefits, including against volatile fossil fuel prices.”
In June, President Obama announced an historic Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon pollution. In addition to placing the first ever national limits on carbon pollution from power plants, the plan called for doubling the amount of renewable energy generated on federally controlled land and waters. Advocates pointed out that offshore wind power offers a critical opportunity to meet this goal and achieve our nation’s environmental and energy objectives.
Environment Massachusetts is a statewide, citizen-based environmental non-profit organization working toward a cleaner, greener, healthier future.