Environment Virginia Research & Policy Center
December 11, 2013
Dear President Obama:
As environmentalists, conservationists, public health advocates, businesses, faith groups, and local and state officials representing hundreds of thousands of citizens along the Atlantic coast, we urge you to redouble Administrative support for offshore wind energy. Swift action is urgently needed to tap this low-carbon, plentiful American resource. Despite significant recent progress, there are still no wind energy projects off our coasts. Your continued leadership is essential to prioritize the development of pollution-free offshore wind power so that America can begin reaping its significant environmental and economic benefits.
In your Climate Action Plan unveiled in June, you stressed the urgent need to ramp up domestic development of clean, renewable energy – including a commitment to double the amount of renewable energy generated on federally controlled land and waters. Offshore wind power offers a critical opportunity to meet this goal and achieve our nation’s environmental and energy objectives. Over 4,000 Gigawatts (GW) – four times the amount of electricity currently generated in America – of offshore wind energy generation potential has been identified along our coastlines. Along the Atlantic coast alone, there is an estimated 1,300 GW of energy generation potential – enough to power 85 million American homes and reduce carbon pollution by the equivalent of taking over 100 million cars off the road. Harnessing this massive domestic energy source is a key piece of the strategy for cutting carbon pollution and moving America towards a clean energy economy.
America is at a turning point in our pursuit of offshore wind power. The Department of the Interior (DOI) recently held the nation’s first competitive auctions for offshore wind energy leases off the coasts of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Virginia – areas that collectively could power 1.7 million homes. The leasing process is also moving forward off the coasts of New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and North Carolina. And perhaps most significantly, America’s first offshore wind projects – Cape Wind in Massachusetts and the Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island – are on track to begin the construction process before the end of the year.
In order to build on this progress and ensure America finally reaches this next clean energy frontier, we call on your Administration to:
- Set a bold goal for offshore wind development in the Atlantic, consistent with the Department of Energy’s (DOE) current goal of 54 GW by 2030.
- Support critical investments in offshore wind power including federal incentives and support for federal research, development, and deployment programs at both DOI and DOE.
- Spur markets for offshore wind power, through power purchase commitments and collaboration among key agencies including the federal Departments of Defense, Energy, and Commerce with state and regional economic development and energy agencies.
- Ensure that offshore wind projects are sited, built, and operated responsibly in order to avoid, minimize, and mitigate conflicts with marine life and other ocean uses. Wind energy development should be consistent with the National Ocean Policy and key state and regional planning efforts.
We thank you for your support and leadership to date and stand ready to work with you to advance offshore wind power and help put America on a path to a truly clean energy future.