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Is Trump Throwing a Wrench into Wind Power?

New York City

Head Winds
Aug. 15, 2019

New York City’s aggressive new Climate Mobilization Act will require owners of large buildings, including co-ops and condos, to reduce their carbon emissions in coming years or face severe fines. A major way to reduce these emissions will be switching to electricity that is generated from renewable sources – primarily wind and solar – rather than fossil fuels

To facilitate the switch, Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced two power purchase agreements with companies that will develop offshore wind farms that produce a combined 1,700 megawatts. The award was the first of what Cuomo has promised will be 9,000 megawatts of wind power in the state by 2035

Now the fossil-fuel-friendly, climate-change-denying Trump administration has thrown a wrench into these plans, Crain’s reports. In recent days the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, or BOEM, a subsidiary of the Department of the Interior, delayed an 800-megawatt wind project off the coast of Massachusetts indefinitely. The setback came after the agency mandated that the project’s developer, Europe-based wind company Vineyard Wind, complete an expanded environmental review that asks it to contemplate the environmental impacts of not just its own project but other wind projects as well. 

The setback has left some industry experts wondering whether the federal agency will heap more obstacles in the way of other wind projects – including New York state’s – possibly at the behest of fossil fuel interests that support Trump. 

“Right now we don’t have any other data points,” says Liz Burdock, head of the Business Network for Offshore Wind, “so we don’t know what this means.” 

Trump on numerous occasions has criticized wind energy, pointing out that spinning wind turbines kill birds. Turbine blades do cause up to 368,000 bird deaths per year, according to a federal report, but this is a fraction of the 3 billion bird deaths annually caused by cats

“The president has said negative things about wind generally,” says Joe Martens, executive director of the New York Offshore Wind Alliance. “The attitude from people in the wind industry is that this is all cause for concern. There is worry that this could be a stop sign from the Trump administration.”

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