U.S. opens Outer Continental Shelf to wind power

The Obama administration has opened East Coast wind power sweet spots to energy development.

The U.S. East Coast has many sweet spots for wind power development. (Image credit: National Renewable Energy Laboratory)

The United States has cleared the waters for wind farms to be built in large swaths of ocean off of its mid-Atlantic Coast as part of a broader strategy to promote renewable energy development.

Today, the Interior Department announced that a subsequent environmental review has cleared the way for wind energy leases to be granted in areas designated as Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). Building on the OCS required thorough geophysical, geotechnical, archeological and biological surveys.

An initiative to streamline the permit process on the Eastern shore began in Nov. 2010, and four projects were fast-tracked as a consequence. New development should be even easier - the environmental review will be used as the basis to grant and renew permits in the future.

Interior Secretary Salazar echoed President Obama's State of the Union speech saying, "When it comes to powering our nation's homes, businesses and economy, we need to take an all-of-the-above approach to safely and responsibly developing our domestic energy resources."

Salazar hailed the "incredible potential" of wind energy and assured that the government was moving quickly to accelerate the siting, leasing and construction of new projects.

The major findings from the environmental review major are available online to the public via the Federal Register.

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This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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