Offshore wind buildout helps environmental justice with training, jobs and health outcomes for communities left behind, say 125 elected officials

Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA) New Jersey, a non-profit group of elected officials who are working to solve the climate crisis, held a virtual press conference on May 30, 2023 on the progress of offshore wind development in New Jersey.

Offshore wind has the potential to provide more than 2,000 gigawatts (GW) of electric energy in the United States — two times the present generation of the entire U.S. electric grid, according to a National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimate. The sheer size of the resource illustrates the critical contribution that offshore wind can make toward an energy system powered by 100 percent renewable energy.

The Biden administration has jump-started offshore wind development, infusing coastal states and the industry with confidence, with a goal of 30 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2030. Governor Phil Murphy set an offshore wind goal to 11 gigawatts by 2040, enough to supply roughly 10 million homes annually. Now New Jersey is on track to be the highest offshore wind power generating state in the East Coast.

“Here in Atlantic City, we’re at ground zero with tidal flooding becoming the norm. It’s so bad, our children have ’flood days’ off from school. With offshore wind electricity Governor Murphy’s vision to transition to 100 percent clean-energy by 2050 will happen. He understands the tremendous potential offshore wind can and will play in growing our economy with union jobs that also provide training for local people in environmental justice communities, as well as the economic ripple effect in surrounding areas that are already seeing benefits” said Caren Fitzpatrick, Atlantic County Commissioner, New Jersey, EOPA New Jersey Leadership Council. “This clean electric energy will help power our homes, cars and businesses while decreasing our greenhouse gas emissions, which will save lives and livelihoods. Offshore wind is a big part of a future balance where humanity works with the natural world instead of abusing it — a future where our children will have the right to a healthy life free of pollution that causes asthma and life threatening chronic ailments — a future free of dirty fossil fuels.”

Clean renewable offshore wind energy is already generating union jobs and new businesses in communities that serve the needs of the industry. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) released the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for Ocean Wind 1 on May 22, 2023. Based on the findings of the FEIS, BOEM will issue a final Record of Decision (ROD) after 30 days granting the project environmental approval to begin construction. Ocean Wind has already secured an offtake agreement with the state of New Jersey to deliver 1,100 megawatts of electricity. It will be online in 2024 to power 500,000 homes. The monopile facility under construction in Paulsboro, the New Jersey Wind Port, and a fabrication facility in Baltimore harbor were bolstered by BOEM’s announcement. Both are key in the supply line channels for offshore wind.

New Jersey’s Economic Development Authority officials say the New Jersey Wind Port alone will create more than 1,500 permanent jobs. The facility’s location puts it in a prime position to get wind turbines out into the ocean for easy construction. New Jersey is becoming a nationwide hub for the industry which gives the state new career opportunities. Training opportunities have been established in Atlantic City with the workforce development program called Wind Power Ready.

“I’m excited by the opportunity Wind Power Ready represents, as it will recruit and train individuals from environmental justice communities in Atlantic City and the surrounding area to become wind farm technicians. The program’s hands-on practical experience approach means students could graduate to become offshore wind turbine technicians in less than 22 weeks, while being paid,” said Kaleem Shabazz, Atlantic City Councilmember, President of NAACP Atlantic City, EOPA New Jersey Leadership Council Member. “The promise of this program means communities hit the worst from the climate crisis and lack of job opportunities will finally be given a chance to succeed with good paying jobs, and experience better health outcomes.”

Wind Power Ready program is a local workforce development program developed in partnership with Rowan College of South Jersey and is funded through grants from Ørsted, the New Jersey Wind Institute for Innovation and Training, the Governor’s Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy, and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Businesses, community groups, labor unions, and environmental groups back responsible offshore wind development.

President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests $7.5 billion in EV charging, $10 billion in clean transportation, and over $7 billion in EV battery components, critical minerals, and materials. These programs complement the Inflation Reduction Act’s (IRA’s) landmark support for advanced batteries and new and expanded tax credits for purchases of EVs. Additionally, because of the Infrastructure Law a national network of 500,000 electric vehicle chargers will be installed along America’s highways and in communities where access is limited.

“In Burlington residents suffer from polluting fossil fuel powered trucks. It continues to endanger too many people’s health. When all light-duty cars on the road are electric vehicles (EVs), we’ll need about 30 percent more electric energy feeding our grid. With EV trucks, that need for clean power will go up. Offshore wind is consistent day and night. It is key to our clean energy future to power our EVs and homes. It is key to lift up our environmental justice communities with training and union jobs, while improving health outcomes,” said Balvir Singh, Burlington County Commissioner, Elected Officials to Protect America New Jersey Leadership Council member. “Offshore wind power, and other renewable energy sources, will drive the transition of the electrification of transportation as the internal combustion engines did in the early twentieth century for the oil industry. The magnitude this represents for our health and economy is huge.”

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) released the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Ocean Wind 1 on May 22, 2023. Based off the findings of the FEIS, BOEM will issue a final Record of Decision (ROD) after 30 days granting the project environmental approval to begin construction. Ocean Wind has already secured an offtake agreement with the state of New Jersey to deliver 1.1 GW of offshore wind generation and expects to begin operation in late 2024. Only two other projects – Vineyard Wind and South Fork Wind – have received RODs for their projects, and both have begun installation activities.

The monopile facility under construction in Paulsboro, the New Jersey Wind Port, and a fabrication facility in Baltimore harbor were bolstered by BOEM’s announcement. Both are key in the supply line channels for offshore wind.

A 2022, New Jersey Offshore Wind jobs analysis projected the state can expect an additional 314,886 net jobs over the next 10 years based on current clean energy policies and investments. According to the Workforce Development Institute, 74 different occupations are needed to build an offshore wind farm. The career opportunities range from data scientists, welders, accountants, safety technicians all the way up to marine biologists, engineers, and will generate thousands of additional jobs in construction, manufacturing, turbine demonstration, and transmission line projects.

Offshore wind development is the most environmentally friendly ocean energy. Oil platforms with their cables and drilling operations are prone to spills and when there are accidents, like the Deepwater Horizon explosion, they kill wildlife and put the lives and livelihoods of thousands in jeopardy. The economic fallout takes communities affected decades to recover. Ten years after the Gulf Coast still suffers from the pollution the explosion wrought according to a scientific study.

“National Wildlife Federation and many partners across sectors and stakeholder groups want to see offshore wind developed equitably and responsibly. To ensure we act responsibly, the ocean’s ecosystems and wildlife must be considered as we develop this clean energy resource and employ avoidance, minimization, mitigation, and monitoring measures,” said Shayna Steingard, of the National Wildlife Federation. ”Overall, the best way to help wildlife survive and thrive is to stop using fossil fuels that have been fueling climate change and contributing to the current biodiversity crisis. Offshore wind powers renewable energy that will diminish our dependency on fossil fuels and help curb the most severe impacts of climate change.”

Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA) has over 350 elected officials from CA, NJ and NY who have signed respective letters in favor of offshore wind. In New Jersey, 125 elected officials have signed the EOPA New Jersey letter.

“Offshore wind has the potential to be the biggest lever that we can pull to reduce our emissions, address the climate crisis, meet our energy needs, and grow our economy simultaneously. It’s poised to become a $1 trillion industry by 2040, creating thousands of good-paying jobs, providing clean renewable energy, and spurring economic growth. Elected Officials to Protect America fully supports the responsible buildout of offshore wind for America and sees it as a key component to solving the climate crisis,“ said Dominic Frongillo, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA), former Councilmember and Deputy Supervisor Caroline, New York. “Even with the Inflation Reduction Act’s (IRA’s) unprecedented $370 billion clean energy investments in our security, health, and prosperity, we still have a way to go to meet the 50 percent emission reduction goal by 2030 that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says we must in order to avoid extreme weather and climate disasters becoming the norm. Offshore wind will be key in reaching that goal. We urge the administration to reject any proposal that may hurt the IRA law.”

The IRA would help slash climate pollution in the U.S. by an estimated 40 percent by the end of the decade, according to at least three separate analyses by think tanks and academic institutions.

Elected Officials to Protect America is a network of current and former elected officials who care deeply about protecting the planet and people. EOPA is committed to solving the climate crisis, ensuring environmental justice, protecting our lands, waters and democracy. EOPA educates through value-based storytelling, training lawmakers, and connecting elected officials to inspire strong environmental leadership. EOPA New Jersey is a statewide, non-partisan network of New Jersey elected officials committed to protecting our communities, public health, and climate for all we represent.

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