Democrats have introduced legislation in the House of Representatives that would set the US' first targets for offshore wind capacity – 12.5GW by 2025 and 25GW by 2030 – just two weeks before America goes to the polls for the US presidential election.
Chair of the House' Natural Resources Committee Raúl Grijalva sponsored the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act of 2020 as an ambitious piece of legislation to more fully use the seas to help fight climate change.
The legislation supports the transition to clean energy and ocean-based renewable energy, and away from fossil fuels.
It also aims to protect blue carbon – carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere by the world's ocean ecosystems – support fisheries, expand marine protected areas and improve the health of the seas. The bill would also ban new oil and gas leasing in Outer Continental Shelf.
American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) CEO Tom Kiernan said: “The Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act will help blow the wind into the sails of the American offshore wind industry, setting national offshore wind goals of 12.5GW on the outer continental shelf by 2025 and 25GW by 2030.
“AWEA expects 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030 will produce 83,000 jobs and $25 billion in annual economic output - this Act will go a long way in realising those benefits. We look forward to continuing to work with these and other leaders on this important legislation.”
The US has just over 42MW of operational offshore wind capacity, according to Windpower Intelligence, the research and data division of Windpower Monthly. However, a number of east-coast states have held auctions to award capacity.
Key provisions in the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act of 2020 include:
- A national goal for offshore wind energy capacity of 12.5GW by 2025 and 25GW by 2030.
- An increase in research and development funding for wildlife protection strategies.
- A block on new oil and gas leasing in Outer Continental Shelf.
- Measuring CO2 emissions from shipping vessels annually, while incentivising increased fuel efficiency for fishing.
- Increasing carbon storage in blue carbon ecosystems such as salt marshes, seagrasses, and mangroves. These ecosystems absorb carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and safely store it at a rate of up to four times that of forests on land.
- Promote coastal resilience and restoration with grants to stimulate the economy, provide jobs for workers affected by Covid-19.
- Improve ocean protection in the face of the biodiversity crisis, setting a goal to protect at least 30% of US oceans by 2030, and creating a new federal task force
- Tackle ocean health challenges including ocean acidification and harmful algal blooms, which cause significant harm to seafood, tourism, human communities as well as ocean wildlife and ecosystems.
- Restore US leadership in international ocean governance including promoting international coordination and information-sharing on marine energy development, marine protected areas, and marine resource management.
The bill would also protect the seas and coastal habitats that support healthy fish, marine wildlife, and coastal economies.