The U.S. Department of Interior today announced the permitting of a huge wind energy facility in Wyoming as a responsible and job-producing way of using America's public lands, and the advancement of more offshore wind energy in New England by releasing an environmental assessment for a planned offshore wind area.
Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, which has jurisdiction over energy development on public lands and offshore, today praised Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for these efforts, saying they are part of President Obama's "all of the above" energy strategy for the country.
"New England is now one step closer to being America's pioneer in offshore wind energy," said Rep. Markey. "From the westerly winds of Wyoming to the nor'easters that whip near Westerly, Rhode Island, our nation is filled with the potential to harness energy from the wind. The Obama administration's efforts to support wind energy will create jobs and cut pollution, and make America a leader in the clean energy revolution."
Rep. Markey also criticized his Republican colleagues in Congress for opposing the extension of the Production Tax Credit for wind energy, which expires at the end of the year and is vital to the development of American wind projects. The wind industry estimates that 40,000 wind energy jobs could be lost if this credit is not extended.
Republicans in Congress are also trying to kill a transmission project that would deliver the energy from today's proposed Wyoming wind farm, as part of a larger effort by House Republicans to end clean energy transmission projects. The TransWest transmission project is one of several supported by a key financing program for transmission projects, which Republicans voted to defund in October of 2011, including to specifically eliminate the TransWest transmission project.
"Republicans say they support clean energy like wind. Yet when they are asked to support their workers, they say no. And when they are asked to support transmission lines, they say no. It appears the support Republicans say they have for wind is just a bunch of hot air," said Rep. Markey. "The administration's efforts stand in stark contrast to House Republicans, who are pushing to raise taxes on the wind industry and undermine more than 30,000 US wind jobs. Republicans on the Natural Resources Committee have also reported legislation that would eliminate a key program that provides financing assistance for transmission projects that bring renewable energy to market. The massive Wyoming wind projects announced today will rely on a transmission line currently pursuing financing assistance under that program."