House Bill Seeks Offshore Wind For U.S. Territories

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The House Committee on Natural Resources has unanimously passed a bill that would amend federal law to authorize offshore wind development in the exclusive economic zone adjacent to all five U.S. territories.

U.S. Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo, D-Guam, says her Offshore Wind for Territories Act, H.R.6665, is supported by all five members of Congress representing U.S. territories. The committee has now reported the bill to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

According to Bordallo, current federal law (the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act) precludes the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) from permitting offshore wind farms in federal waters off the coasts of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The bill, if enacted, would do as follows:

  • Authorize offshore wind development in federal waters off the coasts of the five U.S. territories and their respective exclusive economic zones (extending 200 nautical miles seaward);
  • Guarantee each U.S. territory a state-equivalent share of any federal royalties collected for offshore wind or similar development in federal waters off their coasts, estimated by the Congressional Budget Office at some $20 million;
  • Dedicate a portion of federal royalties for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, providing dedicated federal funding for coral reef conservation, research and projects in U.S. territories and nationwide, at no additional cost to American taxpayers;
  • Direct BOEM to complete a study on the technological and economic feasibility of offshore wind development in all five U.S. territories in consultation with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory;
  • Mandate federal consultation – regarding suitability of wind sites – with territorial governors prior to any offshore wind lease sales in adjacent federal waters.

“I am thrilled that my Offshore Wind for Territories Act unanimously passed the Committee [on Wednesday]. Offshore wind could replace our reliance on costly foreign petroleum imports with renewable, locally produced electricity while saving residents money on their electricity bills,” says Bordallo.

“Our island could be a true leader in offshore wind, more sustainable and self-sufficient just as my late husband, Governor [Ricardo] Bordallo, envisioned decades ago,” she continues. “Offshore wind industry leaders are very interested in Guam, and my bill clears the way for this exciting economic opportunity to come to our island.”

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