Letter to President Obama:

Hundreds of Atlantic Coast Groups Urge Continued Leadership for Offshore Wind

Letter to President Obama from hundreds of Atlantic Coast conservation groups, businesses, public officials, faith leaders and more urging continued leadership on offshore wind.


Environment Virginia

October 22, 2015

Dear President Obama:

As environmentalists, conservationists, public health advocates, businesses, faith groups, labor unions, and public officials representing hundreds of thousands of citizens along the Atlantic coast, we want to express our strong support for making offshore wind a key element in America’s plan to reduce pollution and shift to clean energy. We were pleased to see your recent leadership in convening the White House Summit on Offshore Wind and commend these new efforts to promote collaboration between the states and federal agencies. We look forward to your continued leadership to ensure that America can begin reaping the significant environmental and economic benefits of this pollution-free energy source.

2015 marked a major milestone in America’s pursuit of offshore wind power, with our first project finally under construction off of Rhode Island. We are counting on your leadership to ensure that the Block Island Wind Farm is truly the beginning of a new energy chapter for America – one that finally taps the massive clean energy source waiting just off our shores that has the capacity to transform the energy portfolios of states along the Atlantic coast.

The recently adopted Clean Power Plan, which emphasizes the importance of clean renewable energy, is the single biggest action our country has ever taken to confront climate change. But additional leadership is needed to maintain momentum and ensure that offshore wind power plays a major role in states’ plans to reduce pollution and shift to clean energy.

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 must be a central component of America’s strategy for cutting carbon pollution and moving the nation towards a clean energy economy. Increasing the amount of energy generated from clean, renewable sources such as offshore wind power will help protect public health and create American jobs. Supporting strong federal incentives for offshore wind power will help ensure that offshore wind energy is harnessed and developed to help Atlantic coast states successfully comply with the Clean Power Plan and move to a clean energy future.

We are encouraged by the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Smart from the Start initiative which has made significant progress in facilitating an efficient, environmentally responsible leasing process for offshore wind power. The seven federal Wind Energy Areas designated for offshore wind power collectively have the capacity to generate nearly 20 GW – enough to power over 6 million average U.S. homes. We look forward to seeing project proposals move forward in the areas that have currently been leased, and encourage the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to continue its efforts to auction leases and identify new areas appropriate for wind power development off of additional states.

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 22 GW by 2030 scenario analyzed in the Department of Energy’s (DOE) 2015 Wind Vision report.
  • Increase collaboration with state governments to ensure an efficient offshore wind power leasing process that is coordinated with states’ energy planning processes.
  • Increase 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 and 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.

Cc: Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz

Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy

Council on Environmental Quality Managing Director Christy Goldfuss

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Abigail Ross Hopper

U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Paul Zunkunft

National Ocean & Atmospheric Administration Acting Administrator Kathryn Sullivan