U.S. Interior Secretary Salazar vows to speed wind energy projects

WASHINGTON (AP) — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar vowed Tuesday to spur offshore wind projects in the Atlantic Ocean by expediting permits and identifying promising areas for wind power.

Gulf Oil Spill Drilling
Maxwell S. Gersh

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar speaks to reporters at Gulf Island Fabrication in Houma, La., Monday, Nov. 22, 2010. (AP Photo/The Daily Comet, Maxwell S. Gersh)

At a speech in Baltimore, Salazar said he will institute a "smart permitting process" that could result in leases issued within two years, instead of seven years or more.

Salazar and developers of the nation's first offshore wind farm signed a lease last month launching the 130-turbine Cape Wind project off the Massachusetts coast, following an eight-year federal review.

"The Cape Wind lease is an historic milestone in America's renewable energy future, but to fully harness the economic and energy benefits of our nation's vast Atlantic wind potential we need to implement a smart permitting process that is efficient, thorough and unburdened by needless red tape," Salazar said.

The Cape Wind project faced intense opposition from two Indian tribes and some environmentalists and residents, including the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who warned that the windmills could mar the ocean view. They would be visible from the Kennedy compound at Hyannis Port.

Salazar said the project's developers can protect local culture and beauty while expanding the nation's supply of renewable energy.

Salazar said he and other federal officials will work with governors in 11 Atlantic Coast states to identify promising areas for wind development. If no serious problems are identified, leases could be issued late next year or in early 2012.

Salazar said he hopes to pursue offshore wind power along the Atlantic Coast in the same way officials are pushing solar power in the Southwest.

"If we are wise with our planning, we can help build a robust and environmentally responsible offshore renewable energy program that creates jobs here at home," he said.

Conservation groups and a group representing the wind industry hailed Salazar's announcement.

"Ocean wind power is the good witch to the bad witch of ocean oil drilling," said Andrew Sharpless, CEO of Oceana. "People need jobs and energy. Ocean wind power, unlike ocean oil drilling, is a great way to do both."

Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, said streamlining the multistep permitting process for offshore wind projects was essential.

"As the pipeline of projects begin to move forward more rapidly, the environmental and economic benefits of offshore wind, including manufacturing facilities and associated jobs, can be realized," she said.

Under the initiative, the Interior Department will work with state officials over the next two months to identify possible sites for wind projects in six states: Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Virginia, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. A preliminary list is expected in January.

Additional sites will be identified next year in five more states: New York, Maine, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., said his state was solidifying its position as a national leader in creating clean energy jobs that will reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil and protect the environment.

Wind energy projects "will bring thousands of jobs to our region that cannot be outsourced," Cardin said.

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 's picture

Salazar is all wet

Why waste so much money when coal fired power plants are still being built? 16 since 2008 and 16 more probably fired up by now. With all the new pollution any imagined C02 savings will never be noticed. I suspect more C02 is released in the manufacture and transportation of wind turbines than they could ever reduce in their usable service span. Not to mention the C02 absorption loss from hacking down all the trees and spraying to prevent regrowth. C02 keeps rising and windsprawl (not wind farms) does not help. Salazar is trapped in a magical mystery tour of theory and fantasy. Real workable solutions are ignored and the well connected corporations with the expensive lawyers are gung ho to reap tax dollars. The Ghosts of Enron Past are coming back to haunt us.

 's picture

What a whitewash

This is sheer, unadulterated bullcrap as far as I can see. Let's stop this fantasy of putting thousands of expensive wind turbines out to sea or on land. Secretary Salazar is bowing to the pressures of developers who are anxious to get their hands on tax subsidies. Let's level the playing field and remove all forms of subsidies from electricity generation and see what we have. I guarantee there would not be a single wind turbine built anywhere on land or sea. Maine expedited wind permitting and it has been a disaster. Corporations now have more rights than citizens when it comes to wind power and whose country is this, anyway?
If you want to cut down red tape for wind, then do the same for oil, gas, and nuclear snd really solve our energy needs. Red tape and restrictions have kept the Gulf of Maine off limits to exploration for 40 years, while technology has made huge progress. When I see next door to us, Sable Island having 3 trillions cubic feet of natural gas reserves and the development has just six platforms and a clean operations record, I think why not bring that kind of energy resource and prosperity to Maine? Surely there is a similar reserve somewhere in the Gulf of Maine, but we can't even explore the possibility. Meanwhile politicians like Salazar and Baldacci want to populate the same Gulf of Maine with thousands of wind turbines. It is enormously expensive, can only be done with huge taxpayer subsidies, and will at least triple electrical rates. Meanwhile, we do not allow natural gas exploration to bring in a much more energy dense resource, developed completely without subsidies, and brought to the market at competetive rates. Mr. Salazar, you are wrong!


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