Massachusetts and Federal Government Team Up to Tap Abundant Offshore Wind Energy Resource | Conservation Law Foundation

Massachusetts and Federal Government Team Up to Tap Abundant Offshore Wind Energy Resource

N. Jonathan Peress

From left: Barbara Kates-Garnick, Carl Horstmann, Tommy Beaudreau, and Sue Reid. Credit: Meg Colclough.

Earlier today my colleague Sue Reid, VP & Director of CLF Massachusetts, joined state and federal officials to announce the latest milestone for obtaining plentiful and clean renewable wind energy from the Outer Continental Shelf offshore of Massachusetts. Specifically, they initiated the process for developers to begin leasing and site assessment, and for data gathering and public input, to facilitate off shore wind deployment in an area approximately 12 nautical miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and 13 nautical miles southwest of Nantucket. (The federal press release can be found here.) The “Call Area” as it is termed, was identified following consultation with ocean users, such as fishermen and other stakeholders, through an intergovernmental renewable energy task force led by Massachusetts officials.

Today’s announcement follows President Obama’s State of the Union address, in which he expressed the compelling need to develop alternative sources of energy. CLF agrees: the environmental imperative and ongoing energy transformation replacing obsolete uneconomic fossil fuel power plants requires deployment of the full range of available renewable energy resources. Because offshore wind is strong and persistent, it is among our most robust emissions-free renewable energy sources. We also support the laudable efforts of the Commonwealth and federal government, who share jurisdiction over marine resources, to join initiatives to expand our clean energy resources with efforts to engage in thoughtful ocean planning, both of which have been major themes in Massachusetts. Massachusetts has been a leader in both coastal marine spatial planning and in offshore wind deployment. Those experiences are now being replicated by other states and the federal government – something CLF welcomes.

In speaking alongside Tommy P. Beaudreau, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director, and Barbara Kates-Garnick, Massachusetts Under Secretary of Energy, on the steps of the Wind Technology Testing Center, Sue said:

“One might think it’s unusual for environmental advocates to be championing efforts to develop energy resources; after all, CLF led the charge successfully fighting off all oil and gas drilling in New England waters. That’s because we recognize that, while we need to pursue a portfolio of clean energy alternatives, there is NO other resource that has the sheer magnitude of clean energy potential as offshore wind. Offshore wind holds promise for displacing many gigawatts of fossil fuel-fired generation, keeping the lights on and homes and businesses thriving while we shut down old, dirty, inefficient coal and oil-fired plants.”

She also underscored how important this work is. She said:

“While most local eyes are trained on a different Tommy, out in Indianapolis for a certain small-stakes football game, we’re thrilled that this Tommy, the new quarterback of the Obama Administration’s offshore renewable energy team, is in Massachusetts, focused on moving the clean energy ball rapidly down the field here, in concert with the Patrick Administration and a host of other stakeholders. This is a battle that we must win. Success is our only option.”

Sue is right – milestones like this help us to realize the potential for a new clean energy future—one that is being fostered in Massachusetts through some of the strongest state renewable energy policies in the nation. Our challenge is to advance from salutary policies to new renewable energy deployment that benefits Massachusetts with jobs, economic activity, cleaner air and a healthier environment. Today’s development was one step on a path just begun.

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