Offshore Wind Leasing Could Be Meaningless Without Extension of Tax Credits
WASHINGTON (February 3, 2012) – The Obama administration’s Interior Department today announced the next step in opening the best wind resources in federal waters off Massachusetts for offshore wind development. This comes on the heels of announcements yesterday that will clear the way to begin leasing offshore areas for wind in the Mid-Atlantic. Yet offshore wind development will likely remain on hold unless Congress is able to extend the Production Tax Credit, which expires at the end of this year.
“I applaud the Obama administration for working closely with Massachusetts and our fishing, shipping, and environmental interests, to move forward on a standardized permitting and leasing program for wind development off our shores,” said Rep. Markey, top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee and dean of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation. “The answer to America's clean energy future really is blowing in the wind. But the tens of thousands of jobs to be created in offshore wind energy will be at risk if Republicans insist on raising taxes on the wind industry and keep the playing field tilted in favor of Big Oil and King Coal.”
While the oil and gas industry enjoys more than $40 billion in subsidies that are permanent fixtures of the tax code, the Production Tax Credit for renewable energy must be periodically renewed. When the Production Tax Credit lapsed in 1999, 2001 and 2003, wind energy deployments dropped 70 to 90 percent nationwide.
In 2009, federal, state, local, and tribal representatives came together to form the Massachusetts Offshore Renewable Energy Task Force. That stakeholder process ultimately led to the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs recommending, and the Interior Department approving, an offshore wind planning area off Massachusetts. Today’s announcement opens a comment period in which wind developers can express interest in leasing specific pieces of that planning area, which includes 826,000 acres beginning approximately 12 nautical miles south of Martha’s Vineyard.
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