An Earth Day Promise For More Offshore Wind Power From Obama

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07:32:48 pm on April 22, 2009

Obama spent some time on Earth day at an old Maytag plant in Iowa now being used to manufacture wind power turbines by Trinity Structural Towers.  He discussed the need for more renewable energy and ultimately revealed new regulations regarding offshore wind farms that would clear the way for developers to install wind farms on the Outer Continental Shelf. 

Michael Olsen, a former Bush Interior Department official, said the rules will allow projects to move ahead in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  “This is very significant,” said Olsen, a lawyer for the firm Bracewell & Giuliani, who represents a wind energy company called Deepwater. That company is working in Rhode Island.  “There are companies right now ready to go,” Olsen said.

Here are some highlights of the speech:

On wind energy..

“According to some estimates, last year, 40 percent of all new generating capacity in our country came from wind. In Iowa, you know what this means. This state is second only to Texas in installed wind capacity, which more than doubled last year alone. The result? Once shuttered factories are whirring back to life here at Trinity; at TPI Composites where more than 300 workers are manufacturing turbine blades; and elsewhere in this state and across America.”

“Today I am announcing that my administration is taking another historic step. Through the Department of Interior, we are establishing a program to authorize – for the first time – the leasing of federal waters for projects to generate electricity from wind as well as from ocean currents and other renewable sources.  This will open the door to major investments in offshore clean energy. For example, there is enormous interest in wind projects off the coasts of New Jersey and Delaware and today’s announcement will enable these projects to move forward.”

“It is estimated that if we fully pursue our potential for wind energy on land and offshore, wind can generate as much as 20 percent of our electricity by 2030, creating as many as 250,000 jobs in the process”

On fuel economy..

“That is why my administration has begun to put in place higher fuel economy standards for the first time since the mid-1980s – so our cars will get better mileage, saving drivers money and spurring companies to develop more innovative products. The recovery act also includes $2 billion in competitive grants to develop the next generation of batteries for plug-in hybrid cars. We’re planning to buy 17,600 American-made, fuel-efficient cars and trucks for the government fleet. And today, Vice President Biden is announcing a Clean Cities grant program through the Recovery Act to help state and local governments purchase clean energy vehicles, too.”

On carbon cap and trade..

“We would set a cap on all of the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that our economy is allowed to produce in total, combining the emissions from cars and trucks, coal-fired power plants, energy-intensive industries, and other sources.

By setting a cap, carbon pollution would become like a commodity. It would have a value as a limited resource. To determine that value, much like any other traded commodity, we’d create a market where companies could buy and sell the right to produce a certain amount. In this way, a company can determine for itself whether it makes sense to spend the money to become cleaner or more efficient, or to spend the money on a certain amount of allowable pollution.

Over time, as the cap on greenhouse gases is lowered, the commodity would become scarcer – and the price would go up. Year by year, companies and consumers would have greater incentive to invest in clean energy and energy efficiency, as the price of the status quo became more expensive.

By closing the carbon loophole through this kind of market-based cap, we can address in a systematic way all the facets of the energy crisis: lowering our dependence on foreign oil, reducing our use of fossil fuels, and promoting new industries right here in America.”

The full text of the speech is here


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