Will Federal and State Leaders Take Advantage of America’s Golden Opportunity?

Miles Grant
Offshore Wind

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 new report released today 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.

“America’s Atlantic coast has some of the best offshore wind energy resources in the world, the technology to harvest it is ready right now, and we have workers ready to do the job,” said Catherine Bowes, the National Wildlife Federation’s senior manager for new energy solutions and lead author of the report. “We need to take advantage of this golden opportunity to make our electricity supply cleaner, more wildlife-friendly, and more secure.”

“Like many states along the Atlantic, Massachusetts has no fossil fuel resources, forcing us to import almost all of our energy needs,” Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan said.  “Developing offshore wind, an indigenous and emissions free energy source just off the Massachusetts coast, would not only offer a tremendous economic opportunity by creating thousands of new jobs for our citizens, offshore wind will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions and vastly improve the quality of the air we breathe.”

The Turning Point for Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy includes detailed reports on each Atlantic Coast state. Among the highlights of the report:

  • Offshore wind energy will be an economic powerhouse for America. Harnessing the 52 gigawatts of already-identified available Atlantic offshore wind energy – just 4 percent of the estimated generation potential of this massive resource – could generate $200 billion in economic activity, create 300,000 jobs, and sustain power for about 14 million homes. (Europe already produces enough energy from offshore wind right now to power 4 million homes.)
  • America is closer than ever to bringing offshore wind energy ashore. Efforts are underway in 10 Atlantic Coast states, with over 2,000 square nautical miles of federal waters already designated for wind energy development off of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. Environmental reviews finding no significant impacts have been completed, and leases are expected to be issued for some of these areas by the end of the year.
  • Despite this progress, leadership is urgently needed at both the state and federal level to ensure offshore wind energy becomes a reality in America:
    • President Obama should set a clear national goal for offshore wind energy development, and each Atlantic state governor should also a set goal for offshore wind development off their shores. These goals must be supported by policies that prioritize offshore wind energy and other efforts to secure buyers for this new source of reliable, clean energy.
    • Congress needs to step up and provide much-needed tax incentives - such as the Investment Tax Credit, Production Tax Credit, and Advanced Energy Project Credit – to advance this new job-creating industry.
    • Federal regulators must continue to move forward with an efficient, environmentally-responsible permitting process for offshore wind projects that grants leases to developers by the end of 2012. Leases must include strong safeguards for coastal and marine wildlife.
    • Offshore wind energy can and must be developed in a wildlife-friendly manner. Not only do scientific studies show that properly locating turbines and requiring best management practices can minimize impacts on birds, bats, sea turtles and marine mammals, but transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy benefits all wildlife from cleaner air and water and cutting the carbon pollution that causes climate change. 

“Offshore wind energy can generate explosive job growth, from design to shipping to construction,” saidYvette Pena Lopes, deputy director of the BlueGreen Alliance. “Congress needs to set aside partisan bickering and send a clear signal that America is committed to clean energy by passing the Investment Tax Credit for offshore wind.”

“Developing this renewable, sustainable energy will make America’s energy supply more secure and we have the Navy’s assurance that properly-placed turbines can go hand-in-hand with Virginia Beach’s military bases,” said Mayor William D. Sessoms, Jr. (R-Virginia Beach). “Offshore wind energy can preserve the traditions that have made Virginia’s coastal communities special while strengthening our economy, energy security, and environment for future generations.”

“Up and down the Atlantic Coast, the building blocks are being put in place to usher in a bright future for offshore wind,” said Rob Sargent, Environment America’s energy program director. “But harnessing this vast yet-to-be-tapped resource requires a strong and ongoing commitment. There is broad public support for shifting to pollution-free renewable energy. Local, state and federal officials, including Congress, need to step up and link arms  to make the promise of offshore wind a reality.”

The full report is available online at NWF.org/OffshoreWind. Get more National Wildlife Federation news atNWF.org/News

Report Co-Sponsors

National groups:

Environment America, Natural Resources Defense Council, League of Conservation Voters, National Audubon, Clean Energy States Alliance, Sierra Club, Oceana

Regional groups:

Southern Environmental Law Center, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Conservation Law Foundation, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Southeast Coastal Wind Coalition

State groups:

Natural Resources Council of Maine, Environment Maine, Maine Wind Industry Initiative, Environment New Hampshire, Environmental League of Massachusetts, Environment Massachusetts, Mass Audubon, Environment Council of Rhode Island, Environment Rhode Island, Environment Connecticut, Connecticut Forest & Parks Association, Environmental Advocates of New York, Renewable Energy Long Island, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, ACE-NY, Environment New York, NY LCV, Long Island Solar Energy Industries Association, New Jersey Audubon, Environment New Jersey, Delaware Nature Society, Environment Maryland, Maryland LCV, Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland, Virginia Conservation Network, Environment Virginia, North Carolina Wildlife Federation, Environment North Carolina, South Carolina Wildlife Federation, Environment Georgia, Florida Wildlife Federation, Environment Florida, Next Wind