HSE & Sustainability

US Departments Coalesce on Offshore Wind

The secretaries of the Interior, Energy, Commerce, and Transportation departments met at the White House to discuss advancing wind energy in the United States while the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management identified prime areas for offshore wind energy off the US East Coast.

Wind turbine farm in beautiful nature landscape.
Credit: Blue Planet Studio/Getty Images/iStockphoto.

US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland joined the secretaries of Energy, Commerce, and Transportation in a White House forum on 29 March to meet with representatives from states, the offshore wind industry, and members of the labor community to identify solutions to the greatest challenges facing the development of the new industry.

The event included a commitment by Interior, Energy, and Commerce to establish a target to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030, which they say will create nearly 80,000 jobs.

“For generations, we’ve put off the transition to clean energy, and now we’re facing a climate crisis. It’s a crisis that doesn’t discriminate; every community is facing more extreme weather and the costs associated with that,” Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said. “But not every community has the resources to rebuild, or even get up and relocate when a climate event happens in their backyards. The climate crisis disproportionately impacts communities of color and low-income families. As our country faces the interlocking challenges of a global pandemic, economic downturn, racial injustice, and the climate crisis, we must transition to a brighter future for everyone.”

At the event, the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced the final Wind Energy Areas (WEA) in the New York Bight, an area of shallow waters between Long Island and the New Jersey coast. The goal of the department’s area identification process is to identify the offshore locations that appear most suitable for wind energy development, taking into consideration coexistence with ocean users. As part of this process, Interior removed areas of highest conflict from consideration. The department received input from the public and other governmental agencies through a call for information and task force meetings.

“The full environmental and economic benefits of offshore wind can only be realized if we, as a nation, come together to ensure all potential development is considered and advanced responsibly, with transparency, robust stakeholder and tribal engagement and scientific integrity guiding our every move forward,” BOEM Director Amanda Lefton. “A central component to our success will be creating greater certainty for industry, state and local governments, tribal nations, and stakeholders.”

The WEAs are adjacent to the greater metropolitan Tri-State area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, which is home to more than 20 million people, representing the largest metropolitan population center in the United States.

“Interior is working with agencies across the federal government to advance the Biden/Harris administration’s goal of increasing renewable energy development on federal lands and waters,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Laura Daniel-Davis. “Today’s announcement brings us one step closer to making this a reality. The New York Bight can play a central role in fighting climate change, helping states achieve their renewable energy targets and help create thousands of jobs.”

Additionally, the Interior Department is initiating an environmental review of the third commercial-scale offshore wind project by announcing a notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement for Ocean Wind’s proposed project offshore New Jersey. Ocean Wind has proposed an offshore wind project with a total capacity of 1,100 MW, enough energy to power 500,000 homes across New Jersey. The Department has previously announced environmental reviews for Vineyard Wind offshore Massachusetts and South Fork offshore Rhode Island and anticipates initiating the environmental reviews for up to 10 additional projects later this year.

“The offshore wind industry has the potential to create tens of thousands of family-supporting jobs across the nation by 2030 while combating the negative effects of climate change,” Lefton said. “These new jobs will cover a wide range of sectors, including manufacturing, installation, operations, and maintenance and support services.”