The Obama Administration has joined with the governors of five states bordering the Great Lakes as well as 10 federal agencies and departments to sign a new memorandum of understanding to boost development of offshore wind energy.
“President Obama is focused on leveraging American energy sources, including increased oil and gas production, the safe development of nuclear power, as well as renewable energy from sources like wind and solar, which is on track to double in the President’s first term,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality in a statement. “This agreement among federal agencies and Great Lakes states is a smart, practical way to encourage the development of homegrown energy that will create jobs, power homes, and help increase our nation’s energy security.”
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The governors of Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania co-signed the memorandum of understanding, which does not launch any new regulatory procedures or new review requirements.
Instead, the MOU now requires federal agencies to streamline and expedite their current regulatory regimes for offshore wind projects.
The Energy Department in a statement says it is estimated that the Great Lakes has the potential to produce more than 700 gigawatts of energy from offshore wind, about a fifth of the total offshore wind energy potential for the United States.
Energy Department data also show that more than a third, 37%, of the nation's energy comes from petroleum, a fifth comes from coal, and 25% comes from natural gas. Nuclear power supplies 9% and renewable energy supplied 8%, which was mainly from hydroelectric dams -- of that, wind power supplies around 2 percentage points.
The federal agencies who signed on to the new MOU are the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of the Army, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder says in a statement: "At the state level, we want to lend our full support to these efforts. If technical and cost barriers are removed as a result of such efforts, that will be a big win for Michigan."
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said in a statement: “In Illinois, we believe investing in clean energy projects and the development of wind resources helps promote economic development and create jobs, while reducing our dependence on foreign energy sources.”
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton said in a statement: “Minnesota has been a leader in developing wind energy for nearly two decades. We now have more than 2.7 thousand megawatts of wind projects online, and we rank fifth among the states for the most installed wind capacity.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement: “The Great Lakes have the potential to provide clean energy from offshore wind and related green jobs in upstate New York.”