Feds, States Streamline Great Lakes Offshore Wind Pemitting

WASHINGTON, DC, April 1, 2012 (ENS) – Obama administration officials Friday joined the governors of Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and Pennsylvania to announce the signing of an agreement that will streamline the development of offshore wind resources in the Great Lakes.

The bipartisan federal-state memorandum of understanding creates the new Great Lakes Offshore Wind Energy Consortium to speed review of proposed offshore wind projects.

Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality said, “This agreement among federal agencies and Great Lakes states is a smart, practical way to encourage the development of homegrown energy that will create jobs, power homes, and help increase our nation’s energy security.”

This effort underscores President Obama’s commitment to American-made energy, increasing energy independence, and creating jobs, she said.

Unlocking the Great Lakes’ offshore wind energy resources has the potential to produce more than 700 gigawatts of energy, about one fifth of the total offshore wind potential in the United States, according to administration officials.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that each gigawatt of offshore wind installed could produce enough electricity to power 300,000 homes.

Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman said, “This effort will allow us to tap into our abundant offshore resources, enhancing our energy security through an all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy.”

Offshore wind proposals must be evaluated for potential social, environmental, cultural, safety and security impacts by federal and state agencies. The new consortium is intended to enhance coordination among participating federal and Great Lakes state regulatory agencies, working toward the shared goal of coordinating reviews and data collection and dissemination.

This agreement responds in part to a July 2011 request to the President by the bipartisan Governors Wind Energy Coalition to establish a combined intergovernmental state-federal task force on wind energy development to help meet America’s domestic energy demands in an environmentally responsible manner, while reducing dependence on imported energy and stimulating economic development.

“In Illinois, we believe investing in clean energy projects and the development of wind resources helps promote economic development and create jobs, while reducing our dependence on foreign energy sources,” said Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, a Democrat. “We are extremely pleased to collaborate with the U.S. Department of Energy and our fellow Great Lakes states to harness the clean, natural power of our offshore wind.”

“This agreement will enable states to work together to ensure that any proposed off-shore wind projects are reviewed in a consistent manner, and that the various state and federal agencies involved collaborate and coordinate their reviews,” said Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, a Republican.

“Minnesota has been a leader in developing wind energy for nearly two decades. We now have more than 2.7 thousand megawatts of wind projects online, and we rank fifth among the states for the most installed wind capacity,” said Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, a Democrat. “We look forward to sharing our expertise with other states and federal agencies, to learning from them, and to collaborating on the further development of offshore wind resources.”

“The Great Lakes have the potential to provide clean energy from offshore wind and related green jobs in upstate New York,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat. “This MOU offers a responsible mechanism for enhanced and efficient collaboration among federal, state, and local interests in evaluating processes and proposals for development of this resource.”

In addition to these five states, the Memorandum of Agreement has been signed by:

  • White House Council on Environmental Quality
  • U.S. Department of Energy
  • U.S. Department of Defense
  • U.S. Department of the Army
  • Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
  • U.S. Coast Guard
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Federal Aviation Administration
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Speaking for the Council on Environmental Quality, Sutley said, “President Obama is focused on leveraging American energy sources, including increased oil and gas production, the safe development of nuclear power, as well as renewable energy from sources like wind and solar, which is on track to double in the President’s first term.”

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2012. All rights reserved.