Update: Federal agencies gave the go-ahead Wednesday to plans to build an offshore wind farm near Rhode Island, CNN reports. The South Fork Wind project is the second piece of the Biden administration's proposal, per the AP; the first commercial-scale offshore wind project broke ground last week off the coast of Massachusetts. The South Fork project was reduced from 15 to 12 turbines and tweaked to stay out of the way of shipping lanes and "high value fishing areas." Our original story from October follows:
Seven major offshore wind farms would be developed on the East and West coasts and in the Gulf of Mexico under a plan announced Wednesday by the Biden administration. The projects are part of President Biden’s plan to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030, generating enough electricity to power more than 10 million homes. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said her department hopes to hold lease sales by 2025 off the coasts of Maine, New York, and the mid-Atlantic, as well as the Carolinas, California, Oregon, and the Gulf of Mexico—or, as the New York Times puts it, "along nearly the entire coastline of the United States."
The projects are part of Biden’s plan to address global warming and could avoid about 78 million metric tons of planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions while creating up to 77,000 jobs, officials said. In addition to offshore wind, the Interior Department is working with other federal agencies to increase renewable energy production on public lands, Haaland said, with a goal of at least 25 gigawatts of onshore renewable energy from wind and solar power by 2025, reports the AP.
Haaland and Amanda Lefton, director of department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, said officials hope to reduce potential conflicts with fishing groups and other ocean users as much as possible. “This means we will engage early and often with all stakeholders prior to identifying any new wind energy areas,” Lefton said in a statement. Commercial fishing businesses have said planned offshore wind projects off the East Coast would make it difficult to harvest valuable seafood species such as scallops and lobsters. Some conservation groups also fear that big turbines will kill thousands of birds. (Read more wind power stories.)