With critical federal tax incentives set to expire on Dec. 31, a massive coalition has sent President Barack Obama a letter calling for swift, bold action by his administration to facilitate the development of U.S. offshore wind power.
The letter was signed by Environment America, the National Wildlife Federation, the Conservation Law Foundation and the Southern Environmental Law Center, as well as over 230 organizations, small businesses and elected officials.
"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," says Catherine Bowes, senior manager for climate and energy at the National Wildlife Federation. "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 immediately to jump-start this critical new clean energy source for America."
The organizations have lauded offshore wind power as a promising alternative to U.S. power plants and a way to help mitigate extreme weather events, such as Hurricane Sandy. Jonathan Peress, director of the Conservation Law Foundation's Clean Energy and Climate Program, adds, "Offshore wind is the largest available resource to make the transformation to clean energy. Tapping into this resource will also enhance energy security and provide economic benefits, including against volatile fossil fuel prices."
The groups note that President Obama has made significant commitments to renewable energy in recent months. On Dec. 5, he issued a presidential memorandum directing the federal government to pursue a goal of deriving 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. In June, Obama announced his Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon pollution. In addition to placing 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.
Nonetheless, the letter calls on the president and his administration to build on this progress and do the following:
– Set a bold goal for offshore wind development in the Atlantic, consistent with the Department of Energy's (DOE) current goal of 54 GW by 2030.
– Support critical investments in offshore wind power including federal incentives and support for federal research, development, and deployment programs at both the Department of the Interior (DOI) and DOE.
– Spur markets for offshore wind power, through power purchase commitments and collaboration among key agencies including the federal Departments of Defense, Energy, and Commerce with state and regional economic development and energy agencies.
– Ensure that offshore wind projects are sited, built, and operated responsibly in order to avoid, minimize and mitigate conflicts with marine life and other ocean uses. The letter says wind energy development should be consistent with the National Ocean Policy and key state and regional planning efforts.
The coalition's letter is available here.