The Biden administration sees patches of the Gulf of Mexico as new areas to expand its growing offshore wind ambitions. Today, President Joe Biden proposed opening 700,000 acres off the coasts of Galveston, Texas and Lake Charles, Louisiana for future wind development. The administration is now seeking public input on the development of those sites, following its proposal today to make them official”wind energy areas” where lease sales can be held in the future.
Building an offshore wind energy industry in the US has been an important part of the Biden administration’s climate change goals. There is very little of it right now – just two small wind farms operating off the coasts of Rhode Island and Virginia. The first commercial-scale offshore wind farm, to be built off the coast of Massachusetts, just received federal approval in May 2021.
Since then, Biden has sought to initiate offshore wind development off other coasts beyond the East Coast. The administration has two new wind energy areas outside of California, as well as investigating locations outside the Oregon coast.
The Gulf of Mexico generally has smaller waves and shallower water than the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, making the area attractive for offshore wind. But the Gulf also presents some unique challenges. Future wind farms in the Gulf will face tropical storms and hurricanes. The record-breaking 2020 Atlantic hurricane season included five storms called storms that hit Louisiana. Two of them, Hurricane Laura and Delta, heavy blows dealt to Lake Charles.
Looking beyond climate and geography, the history of oil and gas drilling here could also support an emerging clean energy industry, especially when it comes to ships needed to build offshore infrastructure. New Orleans, Louisiana, is already home to the US’s first private testing facility for new offshore wind turbine blade technology.
Wind turbines in the Gulf of Mexico can generate up to 508 gigawatts of electricity, according to a 2020 study by the National Renewable Energy Lab, twice as much energy as the Gulf States cumulatively consume. The 700,000-acre area that the Biden administration now plans to open up for wind farm development could eventually provide enough electricity for more than three million households, according to a White House. fact sheet.
Biden also today instructed the Department of the Interior to “promote clean energy development” in federal waters in the Atlantic Ocean off the coasts of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. Not many details are known yet, but this move counteracts a Trump era moratorium on the development of offshore wind in that region.
Last year, Biden has set a goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030, which could power 10 million homes, according to the White House. As part of that effort, Biden announced a new partnership with states last month to build the domestic supply chain for offshore wind technologies and infrastructure.
Bigger picture, Biden trying to hit one global goal that scientists have discovered is necessary to prevent the risks of climate change from increasing significantly. The US, the world’s second largest climate polluter, has committed to halving emissions this decade of peak levels under the Paris climate accord.
Success strongly depends on cleaning up the energy sector. But so far, Democrats’ most ambitious efforts to wipe out emissions from the country’s electricity use have been watered down. The Supreme Court last month issued a decision limiting the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
And last week Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) an important climate plan killed The Democrats have been trying to make progress since last year. After months of delays and dilution of the proposed legislation, Manchin refused to support the climate package that would promote clean energy through $300 billion in tax credits. If passed, it would have been the biggest measure Democrats have taken to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Without it, the US is a long way from delivering on the promise it made under the Paris climate accord.
Now the US will have to put together much smaller actions to reduce pollution at the speed and scale necessary to prevent climate change from getting much worse. “Since Congress is not acting in this emergency, President Biden will,” White House said fact sheet on today’s announcement.
Biden today discussed the new steps of a shuttered coal-fired power plant that will now be used to make submarine cables for offshore wind installations. Along with news about the Gulf of Mexico, the Biden administration also announced new funding to help communities build infrastructure more resilient to climate change-induced disasters such as floods, fires and heat waves.
Lawyers are too pressure from Biden to declare a national climate emergency. If you did, the president would more authority to stop offshore oil and gas drilling, ban crude oil exports, and limit international trade and investment in fossil fuels. Biden could also direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency to expand renewable energy generation and channel more money into domestic production of clean energy technologies.