Biden is going big on offshore wind — and it could create tens of thousands of new jobs

26 March 2021, Brandenburg, Sieversdorf: A wind turbine in front of clouds. Photo: Patrick Pleul/dpa...
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The Jersey Shore, sadly a dumping ground for both toxic pollution and culture, is going to have an opportunity to clean up its reputation and, in turn, the country. On Monday, the Biden administration announced that it will mark off a large swath of water between the south shore of Long Island and the New Jersey coast to be used for offshore wind projects. The move will seek to kickstart the essential production of clean and renewable wind-powered energy on the East Coast — and potentially create tens of thousands of jobs in the process.

The area pegged for future wind farm projects is the New York Bight, a region of shallow waters located between Long Island, New York, and the New Jersey coast. The decision to dedicate this area to wind energy was accompanied by an announcement that the Biden administration will make available $3 billion in loan guarantees to wind farm projects, with the goal of producing 30 gigawatts (30,000 megawatts) of power from offshore wind by 2030. That would be enough to power an estimated 9 million homes solely with the renewable clean power source, while cutting as much as 78 million metric tons of carbon emissions.

The major investment in offshore wind follows an announcement earlier this month that the Biden administration would grant approval to the development of an offshore wind farm off the coast of Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, which is set to become the largest such project in the country. The decision to mark part of the New York/New Jersey coastline for further development of offshore wind production suggests that Biden is going all in on the clean energy solution. By 2030, as many as 2,000 turbines could be constructed in the Atlantic Ocean, according to the Department of the Interior.

It's an area ripe for capturing wind power, too. According to a study published last year by global energy consultancy group Wood Mackenzie, the New York Bight region could support nearly 40,000 jobs in the next decade. That includes 25,000 development and construction jobs, 7,000 community-based jobs to support development, plus 4,000 operations and maintenance jobs and 2,000 more community jobs in the years following the construction of the wind farms — and that's just in one narrow region of the country. The Biden administration estimates that meeting its offshore energy production goal of 30 gigawatts by 2030 would result in more than 44,000 workers being employed in the offshore wind industry and nearly 33,000 jobs in communities supported by wind activity.

These clean energy projects are important, not just because they help to cut emissions and wean the country off its addiction to fossil fuels, but because they will create jobs for tens of thousands of people. One of the major criticisms that climate skeptics leveled against the Biden administration’s decision to cancel permits for the Keystone XL pipeline was that it would kill jobs. Now there is a clear opportunity to create jobs while saving the planet. Surely, if these critics are as interested in creating and saving jobs as they claim, they will celebrate the opportunity for upward of 77,000 Americans to achieve well-paying jobs. If not, one just might start to wonder if their criticisms are being made in bad faith.