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For lease: Windmill space in the Atlantic between Long Island, N.J.

 

 

By Lisa Friedman

© The New York Times Co.

WASHINGTON » The Biden administration Friday announced that it would begin the formal process of selling leases to develop offshore wind farms in shallow waters between Long Island, New York, and New Jersey as part of its push to transition the nation to renewable energy.

The proposed sale, the first of the Biden administration, includes eight lease areas in the New York Bight, a triangular area in the Atlantic Ocean between Cape May in New Jersey and Montauk Point on the eastern tip of Long Island. Administration officials estimated wind turbines there could generate more than 7 gigawatts of electricity — enough to power more than 2.6 million homes.

The move is part of efforts by the Biden administration to jump-start the country’s offshore wind sector. Last month, it gave final approval to the nation’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farm off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., and said it would open California’s coast to wind farms.

This week the administration said it was examining whether to bring wind farms to the Gulf of Mexico. President Joe Biden has set a goal of generating 30,000 megawatts of electricity from offshore wind nationwide by 2030.

That contrasts sharply with former President Donald Trump, who disparaged wind turbines, claiming that they destroyed property values and caused cancer. His administration favored the development of fossil fuels and disputed the scientific consensus that the emissions produced by the burning of oil, gas and coal are driving climate change. Trump began his administration by offering 73 million acres in waters off the coasts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida for oil and gas exploration and ended it by selling oil and gas drilling rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. The Biden administration last week suspended the drilling leases in the Arctic refuge.

“Climate change poses an existential threat, not just to our environment, but to our health, our communities, and our economic well-being,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement. She called the development of offshore wind and other renewable energy resources “an important piece of addressing this reality.”

Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which oversees offshore activity, designated the New York Bight a “priority offshore wind area” in March, a first step before issuing new leases to wind developers. That was slated to occur in 2019, but the Trump administration did not meet the deadline.

Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., said in a statement that she and other lawmakers have been urging lease sales since August. The Biden administration announcement, she said, means “Long Island is poised to help lead the way in America’s clean energy revolution.”

According to a Department of the Interior map, the areas slated for potential offshore wind development are approximately 14 miles off the coast of New York and about 26 miles from New Jersey. That distance makes it unlikely that wind turbines will be visible from land but officials noted that details will be more clear when companies file proposals, and that could be years from now.

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