Governors To Obama: Steps We Need To Take To Grow U.S. Wind

Posted by Betsy Lillian on September 19, 2016 No Comments
Categories : Policy Watch

In a letter to President Barack Obama, a bipartisan group of 20 governors has taken action to expedite the siting of new wind farms, both onshore and offshore, in the U.S.

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the Governors’ Wind & Solar Energy Coalition (GWSC), representing 20 states, has led for a decade on policies to increase wind energy around the country.

With long-term tax policy now in place, thanks to Congress’ passing a multiyear extension of the production tax credit last December, other issues stand in the way of adding to U.S. wind energy infrastructure and fully tapping the country’s abundant wind resources, explains AWEA.

This morning, the coalition sent a letter to Obama from Iowa’s Terry Branstad, chair of the group and governor of a state that gets over 31% of its electricity from wind, and Rhode Island’s Gina Raimondo, vice chair of the group and governor of the state with the first U.S. offshore wind farm.

“[W]e agree that wind and solar energy development address many of our states’ and the nation’s important needs such as job creation, economic development, reliable and low-cost energy, and cost-effective emission reduction,” the letter stated.

Specifically, the governors asked the administration to consider the following:

  • Having the Coast Guard keep working on its Atlantic Coast Port Access Route Study with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the states because “it is not clear that the approaches detailed … properly balance the multiple uses of the ocean”;
  • Further streamlining the offshore wind energy permitting process so that BOEM and outside agencies set and meet “reasonable deadlines”;
  • Ensuring that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does not broaden legal liability under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act without a workable general permit process for the private sector;
  • Making additional changes to a proposed eagle permit rule “to ensure the final rule is workable while continuing to protect eagles”; and
  • Addressing concerns that a competitive leasing proposal said to be coming from the Bureau of Land Management could hamper wind and solar development on public lands.

Tom Kiernan, AWEA’s CEO, thanked the governors for their support and offered the following statement:

“Wind farms are some of the greatest infrastructure projects this country has ever built, but there’s a lot more to be done if wind energy is to meet its promise. These governors are leading. They’re attuned to economic development needs and deployment challenges in their states, and they’re looking to the federal agencies to help rather than hinder.”

The GWSC’s full letter can be read here.

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