It’s Wednesday, May 26, and offshore wind is coming to California.

For years, the United States has lagged behind Europe in developing offshore wind, turbines that harvest energy from the fast-paced winds out at sea. But President Joe Biden approved the country’s first large-scale wind farm just two weeks ago, and now the ball may finally be rolling in earnest. Yesterday, the Biden administration announced plans to open portions of the California coast up to offshore wind development. 

The largest obstacle to developing offshore wind along the West Coast was previously the Department of Defense, since the Navy and Air Force use the waters for training and testing operations. Tuesday’s announcement marked an end to the stalemate, with the White House indicating that the Department of Defense was involved in the decision.

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The administration has identified two sites off the central and northern California coast with the potential to generate 4.6 gigawatts of electricity, enough to power 1.6 million homes. When built, these developments will bring the U.S. a step closer to achieving Biden’s goals of generating 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030 and making the electrical grid carbon-free by 2035. However, these projects would supply less than half of the 10 gigawatts of offshore wind energy that a recent state analysis predicts California needs to completely decarbonize its electricity by 2045.

Nancy Rader, executive director of the California Wind Energy Association, told NPR that the plan represents “a major advancement that will allow California to start planning for its carbon-free electricity goals with offshore wind firmly in the picture.”

Ysabelle Kempe


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The Smog

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The Biden administration is on pace to prosecute even fewer environmental cases this year than during any year of the Trump administration, a new study has found. Federal prosecutions of environmental crimes have been on the decline since the George W. Bush administration.

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Adam Mahoney

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