Federal Government Starts to Come Around on Offshore Wind

In January 2018, President Trump proposed allowing offshore drilling up and down the East Coast, including off the coast of the Tri-State Region. The New York League of Conservation Voters, our partners in the environmental movement, local business leaders, Governor Cuomo, and elected officials at every level of government have spoken out against the proposal. The variety of opposition to offshore drilling is a good indicator that there is also a variety of reasons to oppose it, including that plans are already underway to site more than 800 megawatts of offshore wind off the New York coast alone. The Trump Administration has been notably unenthusiastic about offshore wind, but last week it appeared that that could finally be starting to change.

On April 6th, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which oversees energy development in US coastal waters, proposed four new areas off the coasts of New York and New Jersey for offshore wind. These new areas would more than double the total amount of space currently identified for development. Interestingly, New York State has been critical of the proposal so far because the new areas fall outside of what NYSERDA has previously identified through an exhaustive stakeholder engagement process. This involves talking to fishermen, analyzing the impact of wind turbines on marine and avian life, thinking about how offshore wind is logistically supported and connects onshore to the power grid, and working with local residents and tourism groups who are concerned about views.

It will be years before New York meets a significant part of its energy needs through offshore wind and there are many questions that need to be answered between now and then. How will the State and federal governments work together? Where will wind turbines be sited and what impact will they have on their surroundings? How much local support will there be for the development of this technology? No matter what the answers may be, it is encouraging that the Trump Administration may finally be recognizing how deeply misguided expanding offshore drilling would be and how exciting offshore wind will be.