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President Biden aims to accelerate offshore wind permitting, development

At a former coal plant in Massachusetts, President Joe Biden outlined a series of executive orders to bolster the U.S. offshore wind industry.
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President Joe Biden signed executive orders on July 20 that aim to bolster the U.S. offshore wind industry and address the impacts of climate change.

Biden spoke at a retired coal plant in Somerset, Massachusetts that is being transformed into an offshore wind subsea cable manufacturing facility. With a capacity that once stood at 1,500 MW, Brayton Point was one of the largest coal plants in New England.

"We’re going to make sure that the ocean is open for the clean energy of our future," Biden said.

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The president outlined a plan to double offshore wind by 2030. He directed the secretary of the Interior to review siting and permitting processes on public lands and in offshore waters to identify steps needed to achieve the goal.

Biden's action is expected to jump-start the years-long offshore wind development process in the Gulf of Mexico, where former President Donald Trump had cast uncertainty on the industry by banning oil and gas leases in certain parts off the U.S. Atlantic coast.

The executive orders also directed the Council on Environmental Quality and the Office of Management and Budget to identify steps needed to accelerate the deployment of clean energy and transmission projects "in an environmentally sustainable manner."

David Hardy, CEO of offshore wind developer Ørsted's North American operations, said he was "especially excited" to see Biden address federal permitting processes.

Leaders celebrate the groundbreaking for South Fork Wind-- New York's first offshore wind project (Courtesy: South Fork Wind)

Biden acknowledged that his efforts through executive action fall short of the opportunity before Congress.

A second iteration of the Build Back Better plan, with billions of dollars for clean energy, appears dead, again, at the hands of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). Biden said Congress has "failed in this duty" to address climate change, but blamed Republicans for not supporting his plan and did not single out Manchin.

Jose Zayas, executive vice president of policy and programs at the American Council on Renewable Energy, applauded the president's actions but said "an all-hands-on-deck approach that includes legislative action" is needed to address the worst impacts of climate change.

"We urge Congress to not miss the opportunity to enact a long-term, stable, and predictable clean energy tax platform this year that is capable of effectively addressing the climate crisis," Zayas said.

Some climate advocates had called on Biden to issue a national emergency to address climate change, which he did not do. Biden did say that the option for an emergency declaration is on the table.

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