WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) — The White House on Thursday launched a formal partnership with 11 East Coast governors to spur the development of offshore wind power, a key element of President Joe Biden’s climate change plan.
Biden, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and other top administration officials met Thursday at the White House with governors, wind energy officials and labor leaders. The session focused on ways to expand important segments of the offshore industry, including production facilities, ports, training and staff development.
“Together we are moving forward. We are going to build a better America,” Biden said. “It’s not just about the future. It’s right now.”
The partnership includes governors from both sides from Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.
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Missing from the treaty is Virginia, where Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin has taken the initiative to withdraw the state from a regional climate change-led carbon initiative.
Press Secretary Macaulay Porter said Youngkin supports offshore wind power and his administration has been involved in talks with the White House on the topic.
“The Commonwealth is already a leader in offshore wind power, and the Youngkin administration is focused … on this growing sector in a way that is in line with Virginia’s job creation and its right-to-work philosophy,” Porter said, referring to the state’s statement. a policy that promotes a worker’s right not to be required to join a union.
Youngkin is “fully committed to Virginia’s current offshore wind project” and will continue to support any future project “that meets Virginia’s economic needs and protects taxpayers from high energy costs,” Porter said.
In working with governments and the private sector, the White House said it will “provide Americans with cleaner and cheaper energy, create well-paying jobs, and invest billions in new American energy supply chains,” including wind turbine construction, shipbuilding and maintenance.
Biden has set a goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030, enough to power 10 million homes, support 77,000 jobs, and spur $12 billion a year of private investment in offshore wind power. Offshore wind is a key component of the Democratic President’s plan to decarbonise the nation’s electricity grid by 2035.
The Biden administration approved two large-scale wind projects: Vineyard Wind in Massachusetts and South Fork Wind off the coast of New York and Rhode Island. Both are built by trade unions. The Department of the Interior has begun reviewing 10 more offshore projects that, if approved, will produce 22 gigawatts of clean energy.
Danish wind energy developer Orsted signed a project labor agreement last month with a national union representing 3 million construction workers to build the company’s offshore wind farms in the US with the participation of the US union. Orsted currently has six offshore projects in five states.
The National Agreement signed with the Builders Unions of North America applies to contractors working on these and future projects without a termination date for the project. It sets conditions for trade unions to build offshore wind farms to ensure a diverse workforce. It contains training provisions to make sure they can build complex infrastructure that is worth billions of dollars.
“We understand that states are big players here,” said David Hayes, White House climate adviser. With a formal partnership, Hayes said the Biden administration can “work with governors on policy going forward and help secure the supply chain of American manufacturing for this brand new industry.”
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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, said he and other East Coast governors are “united with our state and federal partners not just by geographic location, but by a shared commitment to clean and affordable energy, economic opportunity, and a future where the entire community is involved.” protected from the worsening effects of climate change.”
The federal-state collaboration comes after the Biden administration announced a plan to host up to seven offshore wind auctions by 2025, including one held off the coast of North Carolina last month and earlier this year in a coastal area known as New York bay. Other sales are expected in the Gulf of Maine, the mid-Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, and offshore California and Oregon.
The environmental and clean energy groups have welcomed the cooperation between the federal government and the states.
“There are only seven offshore wind turbines in the United States today, and we will need many more, and we will do it responsibly, to reach our clean energy goals,” said Diane Hoskins, campaign manager for conservation group Oceana. She called for “strong marine life protection measures to avoid, minimize and mitigate the impact of offshore wind”.
Heather Zichal, CEO of the Clean Energy Association of America, an industry group, said wind energy developers support the federal government’s initiative. “A clear and predictable permit for offshore wind power is needed to recognize its potential, and there is still much to be done,” Zichal said.
Associated Press contributors Aamer Madhani of Washington and Sarah Rankin of Richmond, Virginia contributed to this story.