- The Washington Times - Monday, March 29, 2021

President Biden announced a plan Monday to ramp up development of large offshore wind farms to generate electricity for up to 10 million homes and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the plan envisions large wind turbines along the entire Atlantic coast, the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific coast. She said it eventually would produce “tens of thousands of good-paying union jobs.”

Ms. Psaki also said the initiative would eliminate 78 million metric tons a year of carbon emissions, which are blamed for contributing to climate change.

The Interior Department could start holding lease auctions this year for one phase of the plan, involving ocean tracts off New York and New Jersey. The proposal initially would tap $230 million from the Energy and Transportation departments for infrastructure projects to support the wind energy sector.

The White House said it has a target of generating 30 gigawatts of capacity by 2030, nearly double the current forecasts of capacity by the end of the decade.

The plan is part of Mr. Biden’s larger goal of rapidly shifting the U.S. economy to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions to fight climate change, an agenda that Republicans warn could cause widespread economic harm, especially in states with high levels of fossil-fuel production.

In some locales, residents of beach communities oppose wind farms, saying the giant turbines will spoil their views. A plan to build scores of offshore windmills within sight of the Kennedy family’s compound in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, was killed in 2017 after the family and others complained it would ruin their vistas. The Cape Wind project would have erected 130 turbines in New England’s coastal waters.

Democrats say the Biden administration can create jobs while protecting the environment.

The U.S. currently has two small offshore wind farms — a 30-megawatt wind farm off Block Island, Rhode Island, and a pilot project off the coast of Virginia that isn’t online yet.

Mr. Biden’s Interior Department also has finished an environmental review of the proposed Vineyard Wind project, off the coast of Massachusetts, but located a few miles south of the proposal that the Kennedys had fought.

White House National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg met on Monday with state officials, industry executives and labor leaders to announce the new leasing and funding goals. The White House said the president’s plan will “position America to lead a clean energy revolution and create thousands of jobs across the country with the choice to join a union.”

“President Biden believes we have an enormous opportunity in front of us to not only address the threats of climate change, but use it as a chance to create millions of good-paying, union jobs,” Ms. McCarthy said. “Nowhere is the scale of that opportunity clearer than for offshore wind.”

Ms. Haaland said the Interior Department will establish the Wind Energy Areas for the New York Bight, an offshore region from Long Island south along the New Jersey coast that includes nearly 800,000 acres for potential offshore wind farms.

“This area is home to more than 20 million people and is the largest metropolitan population area in the U.S., which translates to a significant demand for energy,” Ms. Haaland said.

She said environmental crises disproportionately affect poor and minority communities.

“For generations, we’ve put off the transition to clean energy and now we’re facing a climate crisis. It’s a crisis that doesn’t discriminate — every community is facing more extreme weather and the costs associated with that,” she said. “But not every community has the resources to rebuild, or even get up and relocate when a climate event happens in their backyards.”

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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