(Reuters) – A top U.S. official on Thursday challenged nations to join the United States in setting aggressive goals to expand electricity production from offshore wind.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland issued the call during an appearance at the United Nations climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland.
The administration of President Joe Biden has moved swiftly this year to support a nascent offshore wind industry in the United States, a key part of its plan to decarbonize the power sector by 2035 and address global warming.
“We are in an exciting time – and the Biden-Harris administration is taking bold action to advance clean energy to make people’s lives better and build a more sustainable future,” Haaland said. “Together, we need to set ambitious goals and commit the resources to get it done.”
This year, the White House set a target of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy along every U.S. coastline by 2030. That would be enough electricity to power 10 million homes.
The 30-GW goal is roughly the amount that already exists in Europe’s two-decade old industry, but is a tall order for a nation that currently has just two small offshore wind farms.
At a press conference in Glasgow, Haaland dismissed concerns that Washington’s efforts to boost offshore wind would be hindered by tough environmental review process and opposition from fishing interests.
“It’s a priority and we’ll just make sure that it gets done,” she said.
Haaland’s agency has stumbled in its effort to restrict fossil fuel development on public lands after a federal judge in June ordered the government to resume drilling auctions that were paused by Biden in January.
Because of that ruling, Interior is scheduled to hold a sale of oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico later this month and has proposed to auction onshore parcels to drillers in several states in early 2022.
Interior is “making a lot of changes now” to its oil and gas leasing program, Haaland said at the press briefing, including evaluating its impacts on climate change.
“We are doing everything we can at the department to ensure that we are analyzing these leases with climate change as a backdrop,” Haaland said in response to a question about the future of the program.
(Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Marguerita Choy and David Gregorio)
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