Guest blog: Offshore Wind Power: Critically Needed Clean Energy for Wildlife

This blog is by Collin O'Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). Mr. O'Mara will be speaking at the opening general session of AWEA's Offshore WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition this year. AWEA's Offshore WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition will take place October 7 – 8 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Our treasured wildlife and wild places are sending powerful signals that now is the moment to act on climate change. Shifting migration patterns of waterfowl, declining populations of freshwater fish, and rapid erosion degrading coastal habitats sound the alarm of its effects – here and now. We face dual tasks: to brace for the now inescapable impacts of a warming world, and to chart a new clean and responsible energy course for the future. The stakes have never been higher.

In our collective pursuit to advance the policies and clean energy technologies needed to confront this greatest challenge of our time, we must remain ever vigilant in our responsibility to conserve wildlife. The scale of the Atlantic Coast’s offshore wind resource, the availability of the technology needed to harness it, and the tremendous economic benefits it offers – from local job creation to valuable energy diversity – make it a golden opportunity for realizing the clean energy future that wildlife and future generations are counting on in a way is protective of wildlife species large and small.

Next week, I will address the nation’s largest annual gathering of offshore wind power leaders at the American Wind Energy Association’s annual Offshore Windpower conference in Atlantic City. I look forward to sharing my thoughts on how we must be smarter and more forward thinking than ever before as we determine what our national energy portfolio should and will look like. At the National Wildlife Federation, we are leading a broad coalition of our affiliates and partners all along the coast to support the advancement of this critically needed new energy source in a manner that protects wildlife and their fragile marine habitats throughout every stage of the siting, construction, and operation processes.

NWF and our partners have already modeled how to collaborate early and often with developers to ensure that strong wildlife protections are in place as offshore wind power surveying and site assessment unfolds – most notably in the case of the critically-endangered North Atlantic right whale, with our recent agreement signed with Deepwater Wind to protect whales as they move forward with a project in the RI-MA Wind Energy Area. We are committed to this work and look forward to collaboration with more companies, as well as key state and federal agencies, to secure protections for whales in all the leasing areas. With each success, we will continue to raise our voice, and encourage others to join us, to celebrate the start of an energy legacy we can be proud to pass to our children and grandchildren.

Together, we are running a marathon. We need to keep a strong and steady stride, and it is those at the forefront of America’s transition to wildlife-friendly clean energy solutions that will determine what the finish line looks like. For the sake of wildlife and future generations, our targets need to be bold and our and our commitments to reaching them unwavering. I look forward to the conversations that will ensue at AWEA Offshore WINDPOWER, and even more so, to the transformative work that must follow.


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