House Natural Resources Committee Proposes New Rules for Ocean Energy

Courtesy Martin Falbisoner / CC SA 3.0

Published Oct 20, 2020 9:46 PM by The Maritime Executive

The chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), has introduced a 300-page package of legislation to invest in ocean-based energy solutions, including offshore wind. 

Among its other provisions, the proposed Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act would direct the Department of the Interior to issue permits for at least 12.5 gigawatts of wind energy capacity on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf by 2025. That target would rise to 25 gigawatts by 2030, roughly in line with projections for the U.S. offshore wind market's trajectory.  

“The Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act will help blow the wind into the sails of the American offshore wind industry, setting national offshore wind goals of 12.5GW on the outer continental shelf by 2025 and 25GW by 2030. AWEA expects 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030 will produce 83,000 jobs and $25 billion in annual economic output - this Act will go a long way in realizing those benefits,” said American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) CEO Tom Kiernan.

The legislative package also includes authorization for $120 million per year in funding for ocean energy research; programs for coastal ecosystem restoration; a voluntary vessel speed reduction program for U.S. coastal waters; and a requirement for CO2 emissions reporting for merchant vessel transits within the U.S. EEZ, much like the EU MRV regulation. 

More controversially, the bill would also ban all new offshore oil and gas leasing activity on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf, and it would set an ambition to "prohibit any commercial extractive or destructive human activity in at least 30 percent of the ocean under United States jurisdiction by 2030."

“This bill provides a roadmap for ocean and coastal climate resilience, and responsibly uses them to curb the pollution that is intensifying the climate crisis. We must stop the ongoing damage to our oceans to protect the food, jobs and coastlines that millions of Americans depend on," said Rep. Grijalva in a astatement.