The world's biggest superpower is pushing for offshore wind power.
The U.S. President Biden announced plans to develop large-scale offshore wind farms stretching along nearly the entire East and West coastlines, in part of a wide-spanning campaign from the White House to generate more wind-powered electricity than ever before, according to an initial report from The New York Times.
However, transforming both coastlines on such a massive scale could have ramifications on local fishing communities.
The most powerful push for offshore wind from any government
The Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said her agency would start identifying, demarcating, and aspirationally leasing federal waters within the Gulf of Maine, the Gulf of Mexico, and waters near the coasts of Mid-Atlantic States, including North and South Carolina, Oregon, and California, to private wind power firms by 2025. In other words, things will be moving quickly on the coasts, which from a certain point of view is nothing unusual. But this announcement came months after the White House gave executive approval of the country's first major commercial offshore wind farm near the coast of Martha's Vineyard, in Massachusetts. At the same time, Biden reviewed a dozen other possible offshore wind projects proposed for the East Coast. But on the West Coast, two regions near the shores of Northern and Central California have opened up or private commercial wind power development.
And, combined, these moves could become the world's most powerful force by any federal government to develop offshore wind power. "The interior Department is laying out an ambitious road map as we advance the administration's plans to confront climate change, create good-paying jobs, and accelerate the nation's transition to a cleaner energy future," said Haaland, in the NYTimes report. "This timetable provides two crucial ingredients for success: increased certainty and transparency. Together, we will meet our lean energy goals while addressing the needs of other ocean users and potentially impacted communities."
Adding coastal wind farms might become a symbolic step toward weaning the US off fossil fuels
As of writing, Biden has pledged to cut the country's fossil fuel emissions to 50% of 2005 levels, by the year 2030. This will be accomplished via the roll-out of novel policies designed to encourage the use of electric vehicles and clean energy, like solar and wind power. Specifically, the White House has committed to constructing enough offshore wind power to generate 30,000 MW by 2030. The President also advocated for a colossal spending bill that includes a $150 billion project that would offer financial incentives to electric utilities if they used more zero-carbon sources like solar and wind for electricity, and levy penalties on the ones that source electricity from non-renewable sources. "This is a very big, big deal. This is a signal like we've never had before in the United States about where we can go with offshore wind," said Dan Reichner, who is a former assistant secretary to the Clinton administration's Department of Energy, and has since become an advisor for Magellan Wind, an offshore wind turbine developer.
"I've been in the wind industry for a long time," added Reichner, in the report. "This is a repeat of what we did a couple of decades ago when we stepped up on onshore wind, when it went from being a small niche source of energy to being a mainstream, affordable source of power." While there could be serious ramifications for fishing activity (yes, literal fish in the water), adding another 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030 could become a significant symbolic step in the struggle to end the country's reliance on fossil fuel and other energy sources that harm our environment's ability to sustain life as we know it.