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Tonko Introduces Sweeping Offshore Wind Legislation

Wholesale bill will enact needed reforms to offshore wind development to support clean energy future

  • Rep. Paul Tonko

WASHINGTON, DC—Congressman Paul D. Tonko (D-NY) introduced the Offshore Energy Modernization Act, legislation that provides a comprehensive blueprint to ensure the long-term viability and success of U.S. offshore wind development. In 2021, President Biden announced the nation’s goal to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030. Tonko’s legislation implements critical measures and reforms to help responsibly develop offshore wind and enable the industry to meet those goals.

“We know the importance of offshore wind in meeting our clean energy goals, and the opportunities it presents to create good jobs, strengthen our economy, and tackle climate change,” Congressman Tonko said. “While we’ve taken key steps to drive investment in wind, our work is far from over. In order to meet our national goals and take full advantage of the economic boon offshore wind presents, we need strong federal action from Congress—my Offshore Energy Modernization Act is the solution. This legislation ensures we will unlock the full potential of American offshore wind energy production and deployment. As Congress continues to discuss permitting reform, I sincerely hope we can give far greater consideration to updating outdated energy laws to allow our emerging clean energy economy to thrive.”

The Offshore Energy Modernization Act of 2022:

  • Makes targeted reforms to the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to better reflect the realities of offshore wind development and provide long-term certainty for this emerging industry.
  • Provides funding for agencies to facilitate timely and efficient permitting of offshore renewable energy projects, including through early and robust community engagement.
  • Ensures that offshore renewable energy projects support good-paying, union jobs and a reliable, domestic supply chain.
  • Invests in marine and coastal habitat protection and compensates fishing interests that have been impacted by offshore wind development.
  • Establishes the Offshore Power Administration to provide Federal assistance to advance shared offshore transmission infrastructure.
  • Creates new Department of Energy grant and loan guarantee opportunities to support U.S. shipbuilding needed to construct offshore wind projects.

Lonnie Stephenson, President of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), issued the following statement in support of the Offshore Energy Modernization Act: “The IBEW’s 775,000 active and retired members strongly support this groundbreaking legislation, which will help the federal government create family-sustaining union jobs on offshore renewable energy projects. Significantly, the Offshore Energy Modernization Act would require developers, contractors and subcontractors to enter project labor agreements, which will encourage hiring local, highly skilled construction workers like IBEW electricians to work on these important projects.”

“The Offshore Energy Modernization Act helps lay the foundation for a responsible clean ocean energy future,” said Amy Trice, Director of Ocean Planning at Ocean Conservancy. “Ocean Conservancy thanks Congressman Tonko for championing the critical pieces—regional needs, research, monitoring, and investment—that will take offshore wind energy from policy to power. We look forward to working on this bill as it moves through Congress.”

“We commend Congressman Tonko for recognizing that the fishing industry needs support for mitigation and compensation strategies from offshore wind development and for his leadership in beginning to address these concerns,” said Lane Johnston, Programs Manager at the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA). “In particular we are encouraged to see recognition of the need for a Compensation Fund that includes support for the mitigation and compensation of impacts to our marine environment and the sustainable seafood harvesters that support many U.S. coastal communities. RODA and our members look forward to continuing to work on the bill with Rep. Tonko and our ocean champions to protect fishing jobs and businesses and ensure that future ocean development strives to be compatible with existing ocean users.”

“Representative Tonko is a longtime champion of a clean energy economy, and with the offshore wind industry on the cusp of massive growth, he understands that now is the time to ensure the supply chains are primed for this success in the coming years. We commend Rep. Tonko for his work on the Offshore Energy Modernization Act, which is a positive step in ensuring the mechanisms are in place to achieve the nation’s clean energy goals,” said Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters.

"Offshore wind development presents both an opportunity to increase the Nation's renewable energy portfolio but also potential challenges for fisheries and marine ecosystems," said Tony Friedrich, Policy Director and Vice President of the American Saltwater Guides Association. "This legislation will address many of those challenges. The American Saltwater Guides Association thanks Congressman Tonko for bringing much-needed clarity to offshore wind development in the United States, namely by ensuring recreational fishing and boating access in offshore wind arrays, looking at habitat enhancement opportunities in the decommissioning process, and finally establishing a revenue-sharing framework for offshore wind that will fund coastal conservation efforts."

“We are grateful to Representative Tonko for his continued leadership supporting the burgeoning offshore wind energy economy, including today’s introduction of the Offshore Energy Modernization Act, which helps lay the groundwork for this industry’s long-term certainty,” said David Shadburn, Government Affairs Advocate at the League of Conservation Voters. “We look forward to working with Congressman Tonko on this bill into the 118th Congress and other ways to ensure we equitably achieve President Biden’s goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030.”

Rep. Tonko has long led efforts to support the growing offshore wind industry. Last year, he championed the Restoring Offshore Wind Opportunities Act, a bill to overturn the Trump-era offshore wind leasing ban in North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida to jumpstart clean energy deployment and create high quality jobs across the nation. That legislation was signed into law this year as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.

A fact-sheet of the Offshore Energy Modernization Act can be found HERE.

Text of the bill can be found HERE.

A section-by-section summary can be found HERE.

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