The American Wind Energy Association has described language in recently-released Defense and Department of the Interior FY 2020 appropriations bills as “redundant” and says it threatens to needlessly delaying the development of the country’s offshore wind pipeline.
According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), as currently written, the Department of Defense (DoD) appropriations bill requires the DoD to produce a report on the potential impacts to national security of offshore wind, and potential mitigation options. However, these functions are already both a part of the DoD’s existing statutory authority which is already engaged in the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) identification of Wind Energy Areas as well as being involved in the approval of final Construction and Operation Plans for any project built in those same Wind Energy Areas.
Thus, requiring the DoD to create a report on work it is already doing would only serve as a redundant waste of staff time, taxpayer money, and create unnecessary uncertainty for the offshore wind industry.
Similarly, the appropriations bill for the Department of the Interior (DoI) includes language that urges “thorough consideration and accommodation of all affected interests including national defense, security, environmental, maritime safety, fisheries, and particularly locally affected community concerns” — “consideration and accommodation” which is already considered in the BOEM’s regulatory process.
“The offshore wind industry is committed to compatibility with national security and wind projects are rigorously vetted under existing law by DoD, DOI and other agencies,” said Tom Kiernan, AWEA CEO. “As currently written, Defense and Interior appropriations bills do not recognize that the DoD already exercises statutory authority to review and evaluate any potential impacts to military operations, testing and training related to offshore wind development through the robust Bureau of Ocean Energy Management regulatory process.
“Instead, these bills needlessly impose duplicative requirements on the DoD that single out offshore wind, creating uncertainty that puts America’s clean energy future at risk. With tens of thousands of U.S. jobs, a $70 billion dollar supply chain opportunity, and the security that comes with additional American clean energy on the line, we urge Congress to reject this needless language.”
The AWEA claims that wind energy in the United States already “has a proven track record of compatibility with military readiness” and “enhances national security through increased domestic clean energy production.” Specifically, wind developers in the United States have already successfully mitigated impacts on radar or training when they exist, and do not move forward on projects the Department of Defense have identified as being in conflict with military readiness.
The 2020 Defense Appropriations Bill passed out of Committee on May 21 on a vote of 30-22, with the offshore wind provision included as a manager’s amendment — a suite of amendments cobbled together by committee leadership that is used to make technical and noncontroversial changes to the bill and report. This manager’s amendment was adopted by voice vote. The 2020 Interior Appropriations Bill similarly passed out of Committee on May 22 on a vote of 30-21, with language singling out offshore wind’s stakeholder engagement included in the manager’s amendment.