OffshorewindHere are two headlines from the past week that blew me away (no pun intended):

#1- Wind was the top new energy source to come online in 2012.

#2- “Renewable-energy capacity in the U.S. almost doubled from 2009 to 2012, helping reduce the nation’s carbon-dioxide emissions last year to the lowest since 1994…”

With every passing month, more polluting coal plants are  being retired — like these plants in Minnesota, just announced last week – and more clean energy continues to come online to replace it.

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The statistics from the American Wind Energy Association are phenomenal. There more than 60,000 megawatts of wind power online now, which is enough to “power the equivalent of almost 15 million homes, or the number in Colorado, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, and Ohio combined.” AWEA announced the 50,000MW of wind milestone in August — and only months later we’ve already hit 60,000MW.

This is great news for our economy, for our health, and for job creation.

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The thing is, we’ve just begun to tap our nation’s vast clean energy potential. One area where we’ve seen some exciting recent movement is offshore wind, as Americans along the East Coast demand more clean energy.

In the past week, offshore wind supporters in Maryland helped Governor Martin O’Malley once again begin to push for more supportive legislation through the State House.

Meanwhile, last month, crowds of North Carolinians turned up at two public hearings on offshore wind development to show just how many Americans support responsibly-sited offshore wind to power their homes and businesses.

Numerous studies show the enormous potential for offshore wind along the eastern seaboard: In September, Stanford University unveiled research showing that East Coast offshore wind could power one-third of the entire U.S.

Offshore wind development off the Atlantic coast could create between 133,000 and 212,000 jobs annually in the U.S. — that’s more than three times as many jobs as new offshore oil and natural gas drilling. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, if Atlantic states developed just 54 gigawatts of the more than 1,283 gigawatts of Atlantic Ocean offshore wind potential, they would create $200 billion in new economic activity and more than 43,000 permanent, high-paying jobs. Offshore wind is already up and running – and growing fast – off the shores of the UK, Ireland, Scotland, and other European countries, generating lots of power and economic activity.

Our friends at Oceana have also done some impressive research on which East Coast states have the most offshore potential. Their work shows that Delaware, Massachusetts, and North Carolina have enough offshore wind potential to provide more than 100% of those state’s energy needs. New Jersey, Virginia, and South Carolina could meet well over half their state’s energy needs with offshore wind.

So what’s the hold-up? Why aren’t offshore wind facilities springing up all along the eastern seaboard?

That’s an issue our chapters and hard-working activists are focused on right now, collaborating with state and federal officials on legislation and policies for appropriate siting and fending off attacks from polluting industries that are clinging to the dirty status quo of fossil fuels.

In Maryland our offshore wind activists are part of a huge coalition of more than 400 diverse organizations working to pass the recent offshore wind legislation. The coalition reports that more than 1,000 Maryland businesses are in industries that could participate in the supply chain for offshore wind — creating jobs and an economic boost for the state.

In New York, beyond getting residents to flood the  BOEM docket and the Governor’s office with supportive comments for offshore wind, our activists are working to pressure the Long Island Power Authority and New York Power Authority to approve offshore wind projects near Montauk and the Rockways. This push has succeeded in getting LIPA to agree in the short-term to secure more clean energy in 2013.

In New Jersey, where activists already helped pass legislation to support offshore wind, they’re now pushing Governor Chris Christie to actually move it forward and protect critical financing for several job-creating projects off their shores.

We know how critical our oceans are, which is why clean energy lovers along the East Coast are working with the BOEM on wind farm siting concerns. Our priority is thinking through species impacts, as well effects on the fishing and maritime industries.

The East Coast is ready for offshore wind, and millions of Americans want their power to come from clean, renewable sources.

Photo is of an offshore wind site near Scotland, courtesy of Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.