Conservation Coalition Urges Obama Administration to Advance Offshore Wind Power
With critical federal tax incentives set to expire on December 31, more than 230 faith, conservation, and public health organizations; small businesses; and elected officials joined Environment America, the National Wildlife Federation, Conservation Law Foundation, and Southern Environmental Law Center Wednesday in a letter supporting swift, bold action by the Obama administration to facilitate the development of offshore wind power.
Organizations lauded offshore wind power as a promising alternative to America’s power plants, the largest single source of the carbon pollution scientists say is fueling global warming and more frequent and severe extreme weather events. Extreme weather’s impacts have hit close to home recently – Superstorm Sandy alone cost more than $70 billion in damages in addition to the immeasurable impact on lives lost, injuries, and livelihoods ruined.
“Hurricane Sandy was a tragic example of what climate change looks like. To avoid the worst impacts of global warming, we need to shift away from dirty energy that threatens our climate with carbon,” said Environment America’s Federal Global Warming Program Director Julian Boggs. “Harnessing the wind that blows off our shores will be essential in facing the climate crisis.”
Supporters pointed to the clear benefits and huge potential of offshore wind as reason for state and federal officials to support incentives critical for launching a new offshore wind industry in America and along the Atlantic coast.
“Offshore wind is the largest available resource to make the transformation to clean energy,” said Jonathan Peress, Director of Conservation Law Foundation’s Clean Energy and Climate Program. “Tapping into this resource will also enhance energy security and provide economic benefits, including against volatile fossil fuel prices.”
“Climate change is the single greatest threat to America’s wildlife this century and properly-sited offshore wind power is an essential part of the solution,” said National Wildlife Federation’s Senior Energy & Climate Manager Catherine Bowes. “Our ability to fight climate change and repower America with pollution-free energy hinges on bold action from our federal and state leaders. Congress must renew the offshore wind investment tax credit (ITC) immediately to jumpstart this critical new clean energy source for America.”
President Obama has made significant commitments to renewable energy in recent months – on Dec. 5, the president issued an executive order tripling the amount of renewable energy the federal government will use by 2020. In June, he announced an historic Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon pollution. In addition to placing the first ever national limits on carbon pollution from power plants, the plan called for doubling the amount of renewable energy generated on federally controlled land and waters. Supporters from Maine to Georgia pointed out that offshore wind power offers a critical opportunity to meet this goal and achieve our nation’s environmental and energy objectives.
“Today, the Southeast gets most of its electricity from just three sources – coal, nuclear, and natural gas. The region urgently needs to diversify its energy supply. Congress must extend the Investment Tax Credit to allow the region to tap into this clean, zero-cost fuel,” said David Carr, General Counsel of Southern Environmental Law Center.
America can create hundreds of thousands of jobs while powering our homes and businesses with local, clean energy, but only if our elected officials and regulators take the right steps now, according to a report relečased last year by the National Wildlife Federation, Environment America, and 45 partner organizations along the Atlantic Coast. The Turning Point for Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy: Time for Action to Create Jobs, Reduce Pollution, Protect Wildlife & Secure America’s Energy Future details the economic and environmental benefits of offshore wind energy, the progress made to-date, potential obstacles to that progress, and a prosperous path forward.
Press release, December 12, 2013; Image: DOI