Conservation Coalition Calls for Bold Action to Advance Offshore Wind Power

For Immediate Release

Richmond, VA - With critical federal tax incentives set to expire on December 31, environmental organizations, clean energy businesses and elected officials joined Environment Virginia, Virginia Conservation Network, Southern Environmental Law Center and over 230 others Wednesday to urge the Obama administration to take swift, bold action to facilitate the development of offshore wind power, such as development in the Virginia Wind Energy Area.

The potential for Virginia to help lead the offshore wind industry is squarely in view. In October, Dominion Virginia Power signed the nation’s second offshore wind lease. Additionally, the company was one of seven national finalists awarded first-round funding for offshore wind project development from the U.S. Department of Energy. Although the industry has moved forward in leaps and bounds, there are still challenges ahead for the Commonwealth, such as continued financial support for the emerging industry.

Organizations lauded offshore wind power as a promising alternative to Virginia’s power plants, the largest single source of carbon pollution that scientist say is fueling global warming and more frequent and severe extreme weather events. Extreme weather’s impacts have hit close to home – last year Superstorm Sandy alone cost over $70 billion in damages in addition to the immeasurable impact on lives lost, injuries, and livelihoods ruined along the Atlantic coast.

“Extreme weather like Superstorm Sandy is a tragic example of what climate change looks like. To avoid the worst impacts of global warming, we need to shift away from energy that threatens our climate with carbon,” said Environment Virginia’s Sarah Bucci. “Harnessing the wind that blows off our shores will be essential in facing the climate crisis.”

Supporters pointed to the clear benefits of offshore wind as reason for state and federal officials to support incentives critical for launching a new offshore wind industry in Virginia and along the Atlantic coast.

“Climate change is the single the biggest threat to America’s wildlife this century and properly-sited offshore wind power is an essential part of the solution,” said Virginia Conservation Network’s Chelsea Harnish. “Our ability to fight climate change and repower America with pollution-free energy hinges on bold action from our federal and state leaders. Congress must renew the offshore wind investment tax credit (ITC) immediately to jumpstart this critical new clean energy source for America.”

In June, President Obama announced an historic Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon pollution. In addition to placing the first ever national limits on carbon pollution from power plants, the plan called for doubling the amount of renewable energy generated on federally controlled land and waters. Advocates pointed out that offshore wind power offers a critical opportunity to meet this goal and achieve our nation’s environmental and energy objectives.

“Today, Virginia gets most of its electricity from just three sources – coal, nuclear, and natural gas. The region urgently needs to diversify its energy supply. Congress must extend the investment tax credit to allow the region to tap into this clean, zero-cost fuel,” said David Carr, General Counsel of Southern Environmental Law Center.

Virginia can create hundreds of jobs while powering our homes and businesses with local, clean energy, but only if our elected officials and regulators take the right steps now, according to a report released last year by the National Wildlife Federation, Environment America, and 45 partner organizations along the Atlantic Coast. The Turning Point for Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy: Time for Action to Create Jobs, Reduce Pollution, Protect Wildlife & Secure America’s Energy Future details the economic and environmental benefits of offshore wind energy, the progress made to-date, potential obstacles to that progress, and a prosperous path forward.