Environmental Groups, Businesses Unite Behind Atlantic Offshore Wind

Environment North Carolina Research & Policy Center

Raleigh, North Carolina — Today, more than 215 environmentalists, conservationists, clean energy advocates, businesses, and local and state officials from up and down the Atlantic Coast united to call for bold action to accelerate the creation offshore wind. The coalition – which included 42 North Carolina signers from major environmental groups and businesses such as The Outer Banks Brewing Station and BN Design – released a letter to the Obama Administration in an effort to show strong support for efforts made to date and to urge continued strong action to develop offshore wind resources along the Atlantic.

“There are vast untapped reserves of wind energy off our coast that we can capture to reduce pollution and ramp up the clean energy economy.  This letter shows the broad agreement among environmental groups and a diversity of other stakeholders that our state and national leaders should act to steadily increase this important resource,” said Elizabeth Ouzts, State Director of Environment North Carolina.

The letter notes the need for federal leadership to move away from fossil fuels that threaten our environment, public health and national security.  It applauds the Administration for its efforts over the last year, specifically the actions of Secretary Salazar and the Department of the Interior for its “Smart from the Start” initiative.  “Smart from the Start” designates appropriate areas for wind development in federal waters off the coast of six Atlantic states—Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and Virginia.

“It is clear that the coast of North Carolina provides opportunities for energy production. Rather than promoting risky offshore drilling practices, the state should put its resources towards offshore wind,” said Aubrey Davis, founder of the Outer Banks Brewing Station, one of the many coastal businesses signed on to the letter. “Harnessing wind power will ensure that our coastal economy continues to grow supporting the 67,000 North Carolinians that work in coastal tourism or fishing industries.”

“Offshore wind development will create thousands of permanent, high quality jobs in NC, and help us address climate change threats like rising seal levels and increasing storm intensities,” said David Carr, General Counsel of the Southern Environmental Law Center.

While much as been done along the Atlantic Coast, it is critical to build on the momentum of the last year and continue to prioritize environmentally sound development of our offshore wind energy resources.  The coalition calls on the Obama Administration to:

•    Support federal financial investments to spur offshore wind development;
•    Set a bold goal for offshore wind in the Atlantic;
•    Ensure that offshore wind projects are sited, constructed and operated responsibly;
•    Provide DOI and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management with sufficient staff and resources, and
•    Prioritize coordination to secure a market for offshore wind power.

“We stand together and ready to work with the Obama Administration and state officials to advance offshore wind as part of a comprehensive plan to put America on a path to a truly clean energy future,” concluded Ouzts.