WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of the Interior today made the formal decision to delay Vineyard Wind, a proposed large-scale offshore wind project, in order to conduct a supplemental study. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) issued the following statement in response:
“The Department of the Interior’s regrettable decision to further delay the review of the Vineyard Wind project undermines the Trump Administration’s American energy dominance agenda and a major U.S. economic growth opportunity. Offshore wind development is expected to result in a $70 billion investment into the American energy supply chain,” said Tom Kiernan, AWEA CEO. “The clear value of offshore wind to generate large amounts of homegrown clean energy, grow tens of thousands of American jobs, and reinvigorate coastal infrastructure can’t be overlooked. The offshore wind energy industry will continue to work with other ocean users to find solutions that help all prosper and though today’s decision strikes at the heart of our industry’s momentum, we will overcome this regulatory barrier to U.S. energy production.”
Interior’s decision contrasts with broad bipartisan support for offshore wind from federal and state officials, including from Republicans such as Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT), Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Congressman Rob Wittman (R-VA), and former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Vocal support from Republicans and Democrats, as well as what had been a predictable federal regulatory process, has driven record-breaking bids from proven energy developers for the right to develop U.S. offshore wind projects. These bids represent U.S. Treasury revenue totaling more than $472 million.
New uncertainty about the Vineyard Wind project and future offshore wind development diminishes an opportunity for traditional offshore energy development businesses that already deliver a variety of economic benefits in the U.S. For example, offshore oil and gas contributes around $30 billion to the U.S. economy every year and supports 315,000 jobs. Unfortunately, according to a recent study by Louisiana State University, almost 21,500 jobs in this sector in Louisiana alone have been lost in recent years. There’s a real opportunity for these businesses to expand into offshore wind. The first and only operational U.S. offshore wind farm ordered its steel foundations from Gulf Island Fabrication, a Louisiana-based firm specializing in offshore infrastructure including oil and gas platforms.
Offshore wind is a huge opportunity for these American companies to source new business and create well-paying jobs. A recent study by the Special Initiative on Offshore Wind found building 18.6 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030 would create a nearly $70 billion U.S. supply chain. Another study by the New York-based Workforce Development Institute, found that building an offshore wind farm requires a diverse technical workforce spanning an estimated 74 occupations including electricians, welders, ironworkers, pipefitters, pile drivers, engineers, scientists, and vessel operators.