230 US civil society groups call for offshore action

UNITED STATES: Environmentalists, public health bodies, businesses and faith groups have come together to call on US president Barack Obama to take action to promote offshore wind.

Proposed US offshore wind energy projects

The 230 groups said that "swift action" is needed in order to make the most of the "plentiful American Resource" of offshore wind.

Among the signatories are Environment America, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the National Wildlife Federation, Interfaith Power and Light and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

The bodies call for the government to set a "bold goal" for the development of offshore wind exceeding the 54GW by 2030 proposed by the Department of Energy.

Support for investments in offshore wind power is also needed, the groups argue, including federal incentives and support for federal research, development, and deployment programs.

They go on to say that power purchase commitments are needed to spur the market.

The open letter to the president presses the importance of such developments, saying: "Offshore wind power offers a critical opportunity to... achieve our nation's environmental and energy objectives.

"Harnessing this massive domestic energy source is a key piece of the strategy for cutting carbon pollution and moving America towards a clean energy economy."

While a number of commercial offshore projects have been proposed, none have yet been built, leaving the US lagging behind Europe, Japan and China in the offshore wind stakes.

The Department of the Interior held the nation's first competitive auctions for offshore wind energy leases in July, and a second in September.

America's first offshore wind project, Cape Wind in Massachusetts, is supposed to be under construction by the end of the year, but there are doubts surrounding whether this target will be achieved.

In the president's Climate Action Plan unveiled in June, Obama committed to doubling the amount of renewable energy generated on federally controlled land and waters.