Orsted Block Island Wind Farm in this aerial photo taken over the water off Block Island, Rhode Island.
Eric Thayer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The Biden administration on Wednesday proposed the first-ever sale of offshore wind farms in the Gulf of Mexico as part of a larger plan to install offshore wind farms along the nation’s coast.
The proposed lease is part of the Interior Department’s plan to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by the end of the decade, enough to power 10 million homes. The announcement also follows agency approval of the first two commercial offshore wind projects in the US
The proposed sale includes 102,480 acres of coastal Lake Charles, Louisiana, and two areas of coastal Galveston, Texas — one that includes 102,480 acres and the other that includes 96,786 acres, the department said. The agency said it is seeking public comment on which areas of Galveston would be auctioned off for lease.
The proposed lease areas could together supply nearly 1.3 million homes with clean energy, the Home Office said.
“There is no time to waste making bold investments to address the climate crisis, and building a strong domestic offshore wind industry is key to meeting this challenge head on,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement.
The Gulf of Mexico has long been home to oil and gas production. Last year, the administration released a five-year offshore mining plan allowing some lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico. The president has previously pledged to freeze all new federal drilling on public lands and waters.
The National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA), a trade group for offshore oil, gas, wind and ocean minerals, said offshore wind will expand the Gulf of Mexico’s energy portfolio.
“The energy, jobs and investment opportunities from offshore wind in the Gulf of Mexico will add to the incredible benefits the offshore oil and gas sector provides to our nation,” said NOIA President Erik Milito.
The offshore wind industry could help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and generate $109 billion in revenue over the next decade, according to the report Special Initiative on Offshore Wind, an independent project at the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment.
Since Biden took office, the department has held three auctions for offshore wind leases, including sales in New York and California’s Pacific Coast, and launched environmental reviews of ten offshore wind projects.
Elizabeth Klein, director of the Ocean Energy Management Agency, said in a statement that Interior “is committed to ensuring that all offshore wind activities are conducted in a manner that avoids or minimizes potential impacts to the ocean and ocean users.”
Once the interior publishes the proposal this month, the public has a 60-day period for comments. If the Interior proceeds with a sale, it will publish a final notice at least 30 days before the sale, announcing the date of the sale and the companies that may participate.