Salazar Announces Major Step Forward on Offshore Wind

Photo by Phil Hollman

Today, Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar joined Governor Lincoln Chafee and Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation for a press conference to announce a key step forward in the process to develop offshore wind energy in New England.

There are significant wind energy resources in the federal waters off the coasts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and today’s announcement means that we are one step closer to bringing that clean, job-producing energy ashore.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE), the agency tasked with managing the permitting process for offshore wind energy, will now formally collect information from developers interested in the area as well as information about environmental and other issues needed to prepare an Environmental Assessment. Once these steps are complete, BOEMRE will move forward and begin issuing leases for site assessment activities off of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, which Secretary Salazar today said will happen in 2012.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, U.S. Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed, U.S. Rep. David N. Cicilline and Governor Chafee. Photo credit: Providence Journal

National Wildlife Federation is thrilled to see this continued commitment by the Obama Administration to pursue offshore wind energy in an efficient and environmentally responsible manner.

And it can’t come soon enough. There are over 1,000 offshore wind turbines creating jobs and clean energy overseas and the U.S. is behind – way behind – in taking similar advantage of our offshore wind resources.

Today’s announcement builds on progress also happening in the Mid-Atlantic region. A draft Environmental Assessment has already been prepared for specific areas in federal waters off of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, where offshore wind leases are also expected to be issued early next year. NWF was joined by over 11,000 of our activists in voicing strong support for moving forward with offshore wind development in these areas in a way that is protective of our coastal and marine resources.

Offshore wind holds great potential to create jobs, cut pollution, and reduce our reliance on dirty fossil fuels. This is a win-win for our economy and our environment, and it is exciting to see America move closer to tapping the massive domestic energy source sitting right off our shores.