First-ever offshore wind energy lease sale to be held in the Gulf; Louisianans react

Published: Jul. 21, 2023 at 8:05 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The Gulf of Mexico is the source of natural resources, and the U.S. Interior Department wants it also to be a source of electricity.

The federal government announced that it will hold the first-ever offshore wind and energy lease sale in the Gulf on August 29, including an over 100,000-acre area off Louisiana’s coast and two areas offshore of Galveston, Texas.

Wind energy or wind power is created by using wind turbines.

Harry Vorhoff is Deputy Director of the Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities in Louisiana.

“This announcement is really a step forward towards ensuring that Louisiana remains a global energy leader in the 21st century as we were in the 20th century,” said Vorhoff.

He says wind energy will benefit Louisiana’s fragile coastline.

“On the coast, whether its constructing or maintaining levees or restoring marshland inches matter. Wind energy can help reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and the more we can limit our emissions the more we can minimize sea level rise and the more we can minimize the intensity of hurricanes that climate change is causing,” said Vorhoff.

The Interior Department also says the areas that will be up for lease have the potential to generate approximately 3.7 gigawatts of offshore wind energy and power almost 1.3 million homes with clean, renewable energy.

Jesse George is with the Alliance for Affordable Energy.

“While we at the Alliance for Affordable Energy believe that offshore wind is vital to a just transition to a renewable energy future for Louisiana and while this lease sale is a welcome sign we feel that it has fallen short of achieving equity for coastal communities,” he said.

The Interior Department says it is committed to engaging with underserved communities but George says more must be done.

“We believe that energy produced from public waterways should benefit the public and we also know that coastal communities, poor, black and indigenous communities along the Louisiana coast have suffered not only the worst effects of oil and gas extraction but also the climate change that our dependence on fossil fuels has caused,” said George.

Tommy Faucheux, President of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, issued the following statement:

“The Gulf of Mexico is poised to help the United States meet its future energy needs. Offshore wind investment is good for the United States, and for Louisiana, but continued leasing for oil and gas must also remain a national priority. The energy needs of our nation are great and require a strong Louisiana and Gulf of Mexico energy industry.”

Vorhoff says Louisianans are already helping wind energy efforts thanks to its long-running oil and gas industry.

“Louisiana’s oil and gas experience history really dub tailed nicely with offshore wind energy, you know, you have engineers who engineered the jackets that went into the nation’s first offshore wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island,” said Vorhoff. “We designed them in Covington, the north shore, they were fabricated at Gulf Island Fabricators in Houma, they were installed by Louisiana companies, so really offshore oil and gas just lends itself so well to offshore wind energy.”

The Interior Department’s announcement comes as some Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La. and others are pushing for more oil and gas production in the Gulf.

Cassidy has teamed up with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to introduce the Offshore Energy Security Act of 2023. The legislation requires the federal government to hold two offshore oil and gas lease sales next year and in 2025.

But George disagrees.

“Further investment in fossil fuels is simply suicidal,” he said.

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