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Wind turbines of the Block Island Wind Farm tower over the water on October 14, 2016 off the shores of Block Island, Rhode Island. (Photo: Don Emmert/AFP via Getty Images)

Climate Experts Applaud as US Government Approves Largest Offshore Wind Farm in Nation's History

"A clean energy future is within our grasp in the United States," said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.

Climate scientists were among those who applauded the Biden administration Tuesday as the Interior Department announced the approval of the United States' first large-scale offshore wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts.

The farm will include up to 84 turbines near Martha's Vineyard and will generate enough energy to power 400,000 homes with 800 megawatts of electricity, far more than the two existing wind farms currently operating in the United States. 

"We've waited a long time for this moment, and it will be crucial to keep momentum going beyond the starting blocks."
—Johanna Neumann, Environment America

"A clean energy future is within our grasp in the United States. The approval of this project is an important step toward advancing the administration's goals to create good-paying union jobs while combating climate change and powering our nation," said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland of the project, which is called Vineyard Wind. "Today is one of many actions we are determined to take to open the doors of economic opportunity to more Americans."

The project's approval "signals the new administration's commitment to scientific process and is a really promising sign for clean energy to come," said John Rogers, a senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

"The wind off our coasts has the potential to help us drastically reduce carbon emissions from our electricity use, while helping us meet coastal states' large power needs and drive economic development on the coasts and beyond," said Rogers. "Today's decision signals that the U.S. offshore wind journey is now well and truly underway."

Vineyard Wind is one of several proposals for offshore wind farms that the Biden administration intends to act on in the next few years. By 2025, the White House plans to review 13 other potential projects aimed at meeting President Joe Biden's stated goal of powering about 10 million homes using offshore wind by 2030.

The administration could eventually place as many as 3,000 wind turbines along the East Coast.

Johanna Neumann, senior director of the Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy at Environment America, expressed hope that Vineyard Wind's approval will be "akin to the firing of a starting gun," setting off a wave of construction of offshore wind farms:

It's fitting to see America's offshore wind race begin in Massachusetts, given that the Bay State has the highest offshore wind potential of any state in the country. Today's decision builds on Massachusetts' status as a renewable energy leader, and gives other coastal states the confidence to boldly tap the abundant renewable energy blowing off our coast. There's plenty of offshore wind to go around. Bold commitments and regional collaboration can position coastal states to play a key role in moving America to 100% renewable energy.

"We've waited a long time for this moment, and it will be crucial to keep momentum going beyond the starting blocks," added Neumann. "We look forward to working with state and federal leaders to drive continued ambition and progress toward crossing the finish line of powering our lives with clean renewable offshore wind."

Labor leaders applauded the Interior Department for approving a plan aimed at creating 3,600 green union jobs. 

"Union labor will build the largest-to-date offshore wind farm in federal waters," tweeted Liz Schuler, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO.

Construction of Vineyard Wind is expected to begin later this year as a joint project of Avangrid Renewables—a U.S. company owned by Spanish energy company Iberdrola—and the Danish corporation Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners.

Iberdrola applauded the administration for beginning "a green revolution for a sustainable planet."

According to the American Clean Power Association, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia, have committed to buying more than 25,000 megawatts of offshore wind power by 2035.

The approval of Vineyard Wind "is a really important milestone for U.S. offshore wind, and incredibly exciting not just for this project, but the queue of other offshore wind projects under development," said Rogers.

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