Renewable Energy Legal Defense Initiative files comments on behalf of local group in support of offshore wind

On Monday, July 27, the Sabin Center filed comments with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in support of the proposed Vineyard Wind energy facility offshore Massachusetts on behalf of the group Win with South Fork Wind (“Win with Wind”). Win with Wind is a client of the Renewable Energy Legal Defense Initiative, a joint effort by the Sabin Center and the law firm of Arnold & Porter to provide pro bono legal counsel to groups and individuals who support renewable energy projects in their communities. Win with Wind members are residents of the South Fork of Long Island who are currently working to advocate for the proposed South Fork Wind Farm, which they see as an opportunity to place their community at the forefront of clean energy leadership.

Win with Wind filed comments on a supplemental draft environmental impact statement on the Vineyard Wind project to voice support for the facility. The comments emphasize the contribution that the wind farm will make to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and note that, if approved, it will lay the groundwork for offshore wind development along the Eastern Seaboard. BOEM estimates that approximately 2,200 MW of Atlantic offshore wind development is reasonably foreseeable in light of existing permitting approvals, leases, and announcements. BOEM assumes that those facilities will be constructed and come online whether or not the Vineyard Wind project is approved. It is not, however, simply a given that offshore wind development will proceed along the Eastern Seaboard. The protracted and ultimately unsuccessful effort to build the Cape Wind project, for example, subsequently cast a pall over offshore wind in the United States. A decision by BOEM not to approve the Vineyard Wind project at this stage is likely to have a similar impact. By contrast, by approving the Project, the federal government could signal its support for offshore wind development.

Win with Wind has a particular interest in the Project—and the impact that its success or failure will have on the offshore wind industry—because New York State critically needs offshore wind energy. In fact, New York cannot meet its statutorily mandated renewable energy targets without significant offshore wind resources. The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (“CLCPA”) came into effect in January 2020. The CLCPA mandates that a minimum of 70% of statewide electric generation be supplied by renewable energy by 2030, and that 100% be derived from zero-emission sources by 2040. The CLCPA also requires the development of at least 9,000 MW of offshore wind electricity generation by 2035. New York simply cannot meet its statutory mandates without massive and rapid offshore wind development. Additionally, as residents of Long Island, Win with Wind members are aware that coastal communities are uniquely threatened by the climate change impacts wrought by greenhouse gas emissions. The group supports approval of the Vineyard Wind facility as a bellwether that can pave the way for wind development along the Eastern Seaboard.

Read the letter here.

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