The Biden administration on Tuesday said it will explore the potential of offshore wind energy development in the Gulf of Mexico, part of its goal to supercharge growth in clean energy over the next decade.
“This is an important first step to see what role the Gulf may play in this exciting frontier,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement.
While the Gulf of Mexico is a major hub for offshore oil and gas production, it has had little renewable energy development. President Joe Biden has made the expansion of clean energy, especially offshore wind, a cornerstone of his fight against climate change.
Biden faces criticism in Gulf Coast states after putting a pause on federal drilling auctions. States including Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama sued in March to restore the sales, which are on hold pending a government review.
The Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will publish a Request for Interest (RFI) on June 11 to see if there is any interest in offshore wind development in the Outer Continental Shelf.
The request will target the coasts of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama for interest in offshore wind but is also seeking information on other renewable energy technologies.
Last year, Louisiana’s Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, asked BOEM to establish a task force to coordinate leasing proposals for wind development off the state’s coast.
Several Louisiana companies involved in offshore drilling were tapped to help build the nation’s first offshore wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island.
Edwards’ request to BOEM came after the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that the Gulf’s shallow waters and close proximity to oil and gas infrastructure would support offshore wind development. Lower wind speeds, soft soils and hurricanes were identified as potential challenges.
In an email, Edwards spokesperson Christina Stephens said the Louisiana governor was supportive of offshore wind energy and would like to see a revenue sharing program, similar to one it has with the offshore drilling industry, that would support the state’s coastal restoration efforts.
“We are well positioned to support a fledgling wind industry in the Gulf of Mexico by leveraging the transportation, construction, engineering expertise already associated with our traditional fuels production operations offshore,” Stephens said. (Reporting by Nichola Groom, Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Franklin Paul, Bill Berkrot and David Gregorio)