More than 215 environmental groups, clean energy advocates, businesses, and local and state officials from up and down the Atlantic Coast united today to call for bold action to accelerate tapping into offshore wind power. The coalition released a letter to the Obama Administration showing strong support for efforts made to date and to urge continued aggressive action to develop offshore wind resources along the Atlantic.
â€œThere are vast untapped reserves of wind energy off our coast that we can capture to reduce pollution and ramp up the clean energy economy. This letter shows the broad agreement among environmental groups and a diversity of other stakeholders that our state and national leaders should act to steadily increase this important resource,â€ said Priscilla Lin with Environment Virginia.
The letter notes the need for federal leadership to move away from fossil fuels that threaten the environment, public health and national security. It applauds the Administration for its efforts over the last year, specifically the actions of Secretary Salazar and the Department of the Interior for its â€œSmart from the Startâ€ initiative. â€œSmart from the Startâ€ designates appropriate areas for wind development in federal waters off the coast of six Atlantic statesâ€”Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and Virginia.
â€œThe Obama Administration has taken great steps forward in promoting offshore wind, such as with the â€œSmart from the Startâ€ initiative,â€ said Nathan Lott, Executive Director of the Virginia Conservation Network. â€œNow they must continue to move forward. Offshore wind will cut down on carbon pollution and reduce our reliance on oil, all while preserving the Atlantic Oceanâ€™s ecosystem and wildlife.â€
â€œOffshore wind development will create thousands of permanent, high quality jobs in Virginia, and help us address climate change threats like rising seal levels in Tidewater and increasing storm intensities,â€ said David Carr, General Counsel of the Southern Environmental Law Center.
â€œThe Atlantic Coast offers an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the viability of offshore wind energy development. The Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium, for example, found that there are approximately 3,200 megawatts of offshore wind farm capacity off Virginiaâ€™s coast that could generate about 11 million megawatt-hours per year. That is enough energy to meet approximately 10 percent of Virginiaâ€™s annual electricity consumption,â€ said Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA 8).
While much has been done along the Atlantic Coast, it is critical to build on the momentum of the last year and continue to prioritize environmentally sound development of our offshore wind energy resources. The coalition calls on the Obama Administration to:
â€¢ Support federal financial investments to spur offshore wind development;
â€¢ Set a bold goal for offshore wind in the Atlantic;
â€¢ Ensure that offshore wind projects are sited, constructed and operated responsibly;
â€¢ Provide DOI and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management with sufficient staff and resources, and
â€¢ Prioritize coordination to secure a market for offshore wind power.
â€œWe stand together and ready to work with the Obama Administration and state officials to advance offshore wind as part of a comprehensive plan to put America on a path to a truly clean energy