Top officials in President Joe Biden’s administration announced Monday that shallow waters between New Jersey’s coastline and Long Island could house future offshore wind farms and the federal government would begin developing an environmental impact statement for the Ocean Wind offshore wind project.
The twin steps were among the actions as part of the Biden’s administration shift to renewable clean energy from fossil fuels such as oil and gas, whose emissions contribute to climate change.
“We are finally here,” Biden’s national climate adviser, Gina McCarthy, said Monday. “We are ready to rock and roll.”
McCarthy said the move toward 30,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2030 means jobs building the turbines and making the steel and concrete needed and building the ships needed to carry the equipment to the sites.
McCarthy joined Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and representatives from industry and states, including Jane Cohen, who runs Gov. Phil Murphy’s Office of Climate Action, at a Zoom roundtable to tout the wind initiative.
“The president recognizes that a thriving offshore wind industry will drive new jobs and economic opportunity up and down the Atlantic Coast, in the Gulf of Mexico, and in Pacific waters, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at her daily press briefing Monday.
Psaki said the investment in wind energy would create some 77,000 jobs, produce enough electricity to power more than 10 million American homes and avoid 78 million metric tons of carbon emissions.
By contrast, the Keystone pipeline, which Biden halted upon taking office in January, would have created an estimated 10,400 construction jobs and no more than 50 maintenance jobs, according to a 2014 U.S. State Department report cited by Politifact.
“It is going to be a full-force gale of good paying union jobs,” Granholm said. “We can create the energy capacity we need. We can do it with parts and labor all sourced here in America putting thousands to work while reducing carbon emissions.”
The Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said that the New York Bight, an area of shallow waters located between New Jersey and Long Island, would become a priority Wind Energy Area.
Haaland said the area encompassed 800,000 acres and could help provide energy to the largest metropolitan area in the country, home to 20 million people. BOEM now will identity potential sites for wind farms, including an environmental review with public comment, and decide whether to sell leases for development as early as the end of this year.
A recent study said the region could support as many as 25,000 development and construction jobs, plus 7,000 jobs in area communities through 2030, and up to 6,000 operations, maintenance community jobs thereafter, the administration said.
Ocean Wind is awaiting final approval to build an offshore wind farm to generate as much as 1,100 megawatts of electricity, which the administration said could power 500,000 New Jersey homes. The wind farm off of Atlantic City would generate 1,100 megawatts when it becomes operational in 2024.
Monday’s announcement kicked off a 30-day comment period expiring April 29.
David Hardy, chief executive of Ørsted Offshore North America, the Danish company that would build the wind farm, called Monday’s announcement an “important permitting milestone” and a “great day for the U.S. offshore wind industry.”
Environmental groups praised the announcement.
“This will help us see the benefits of offshore wind, from reducing greenhouse gases and climate impacts to creating new green jobs,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, whose parent group spent more than $3 million to support Biden’s campaign last fall, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
“The federal government taking this role will be a win win win for wind. It will prioritize wind in this area, make sure that environmental impact statements are done quicker, and help get more funding for these projects.”
Two proposals for additional wind farms off the Jersey Shore are before the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.
Murphy has said he wanted New Jersey to produce 7,500 megawatts of electricity from offshore wind by 2035.
To support the wind industry, the state plans to bring an offshore wind manufacturing operation to Paulsboro in Gloucester County, and a new port in Salem County to build the turbines and then load them onto ships. That project is expected to create 1,500 permanent jobs and generate $500 million in annual economic activity.
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