President Obama made a historic speech on Tuesday June 25th, 2013, which laid out a climate action plan for the country that is aimed at decreasing carbon pollution and slowing the global effects of climate change. The President spoke about curbing carbon pollution by capping emissions from new and existing power plants and increasing wind and solar energy deployment. Unfortunately, the President did not mention the abundant clean source that lays right off our shores: offshore wind. The development of domestic offshore wind will reduce our dependence on polluting fossil fuels and go a long way in combating global climate change. The scale of America’s offshore wind energy resource is truly staggering, with literally thousands of gigawatts (GW) of clean energy available off our shores. According to the Department of Energy, the U.S. has enough offshore wind energy potential to power the country four times over. Fortunately, the Department of the Interior has recently decided to take a step in the right direction by announcing the first-ever lease sale for offshore wind scheduled for July 31, 2013, which will offer up 164,750 acres off the coasts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts and could support enough energy to power more than one million homes.
As our atmosphere continues to be polluted from the burning of fossil fuels, we must seek more sustainable, clean sources of energy. Relying on oil and gas as our main sources of energy has resulted in the release of an unhealthy amount of carbon dioxide into the environment and into our oceans, contributing to ocean acidification and global climate change that is jeopardizing the future health of our planet’s ecosystems. The horrific Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 is the most egregious example of what our addiction to oil can lead to and goes to show that even the best industry technology is not failsafe. Our oceans cannot afford another oil spill. Offshore wind is one way to guarantee that we will never again have another Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster.
There is hope for a clean energy future in the United States. In addition to the announced lease sale, there are several wind farms being developed currently in state and federal waters. The Cape Wind project, off Cape Cod in Massachusetts, was the nation’s first offshore wind project to be approved and will begin construction later this year. Additionally, Deepwater Wind is working on an offshore wind project off of Block Island that they also hope will begin construction this year. These projects can lead the way in a new environmentally conscious era for the nation’s energy economy. Oceana is working to gain support for a long-term extension to the Investment Tax Credit a critical tax incentive to help jumpstart the offshore wind industry in this country.
Using offshore wind as a source of energy will not only decrease our need for offshore oil drilling, but will also create hundreds of thousands of good-paying American jobs, keep our oceans clean, and slow the effects of global climate change. We cannot afford to keep relying on dirty and dangerous oil for our energy needs. The time to act is now—for the future of our oceans and our planet.