WASHINGTON – A key group of House and Senate members, including the entire Delaware delegation, today sent the following letter to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar urging regulations be completed quickly for off-shore energy production that would allow more wind energy projects, like Bluewater Wind planned off Rehoboth Beach:
Dear Secretary Salazar:
We are very encouraged to learn of your plans to establish an expeditious process for developing an offshore energy plan for our country – and we are particularly heartened by your commitment to advance the offshore wind energy rule left unfinished by the previous administration. Efforts have been underway at the Minerals Management Service (MMS) since 2005 to complete the Rule to regulate alternative energy production activities on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), and it is our great hope that resolution on the Rule will finally be reached without further delay.
Minimizing administrative delay is vitally important to the success of offshore wind projects in the near and long-term, and for this reason we are writing to respectfully request that the Final Rule be promulgated as soon as practically feasible. We also hope that you will incorporate within the Final Rule effective safeguards to ensure the development of publicly beneficial offshore wind projects can be achieved without unnecessary delays and driving up costs and that you will take into account the ongoing efforts of states to promote offshore alternative energy development.
Offshore wind farms represent a significant and rapidly growing source of emissions-free electrical power for our constituents and recent MMS/U.S. Department of Energy reports confirm that winds off the coast of the United States are a promising source of clean, renewable electrical power. In addition, developing America’s offshore wind energy resources will positively impact the economy, and help put America back to work by creating hundreds of thousands of green jobs.
As you work to finalize the Rule for alternative energy production activities on the OCS, we hope you will consider the need to block instances of “claim jumping” on rights to offshore tracts by those who might take advantage of the current uncertainty surrounding the rules for offshore wind resources. Specifically, we are concerned that – prior to the final issuance of the overdue offshore wind energy rule by the MMS – those seeking to develop other renewable resources will effectively block access to areas that have been under study for years by offshore wind developers.
This is currently a problem because the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has the ability today to issue an offshore permit for hydrokinetic projects, in the same waters studied for years by offshore wind energy developers. Meanwhile, offshore wind developers are unable to file any applications without the MMS Final Rule. In some cases, this situation is similar to speculators buying up internet domain names in the early days of the internet – with no intent to actually use them – and reselling the domain names for vastly inflated prices.
Thank you for your interest in this important issue and for your commitment to act as fast as possible to prepare a workable, comprehensive offshore energy plan for our nation that highlights renewable energy. We appreciate your consideration of our comments and hope you will keep us informed of any changes you plan to make in the Final Rule, and your timeline for its completion.