The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
America's First Offshore Wind Farm Breaks Ground
America's smallest state claimed a big spot in the country's renewable energy development history. Monday Deepwater Wind broke ground on the country's first offshore wind project, which will be built at Block Island, Rhode Island. The five turbines will produce 30 megawatts of power, enough to provide electricity to all the homes and businesses on the island as well as send power to the mainland through an undersea cable. The project, which will be operative next year, is expected to create 300 construction jobs.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
“The importance of this day cannot be overstated," said Emily Norton, director of the Massachusetts chapter of the Sierra Club. “The Block Island Wind Farm is our Apollo 11 moment. I am going to remember this day, and tell my kids and grandkids that I was there when the first U.S. offshore wind farm was built—that when we had a choice between bequeathing them a future powered by polluting fossil fuels that lead to extreme storms, heat waves and drought, we chose to power their future from the wind and the sun and smart technologies.”
The Sierra Club was one of a number of groups that lobbied for the project, including the National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation and labor unions, when it was first proposed in 2009. They helped mitigate concerns that construction could disrupt whales and other marine life and that the turbines could be a threat to seabirds.
Numerous officials and supporters were on hand for the Monday groundbreaking. They included Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a passionate advocate for clean energy who has made a weekly floor speech in the Senate on the climate under the banner "Time to Wake Up" for two and a half years.
“The Block Island Wind Farm will bring cleaner and more affordable energy to Block Island’s residents while helping Rhode Island access the tremendous economic and environmental potential of our offshore wind,” said Sen. Whitehouse when the project was cleared to begin. “It’s a milestone in our nation’s transition to a clean energy economy, and I’m proud that Rhode Island is leading the way.”
.@DeepwaterWind Excited to kick off #RI's first-in-the-nation offshore #wind project this morning! Big news for RI workers & US #cleanenergy
— Sheldon Whitehouse (@SenWhitehouse) April 27, 2015
"Not only are we going to create jobs, but we're going to rebrand ourselves as being more innovative and over time make Rhode Island a place that has lower energy costs, more diversified energy supply and greener energy," said Gov. Raimondo at the groundbreaking.
The project is small compared to the offshore wind farms that are abundant in northern Europe, but clean energy advocates hope the construction of the Rhode Island farm will create some momentum. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has opened nearly 750,000 acres of ocean to offshore wind development, designating it as a wind management area, with the potential to create up to 9,000 megawatts of electricity enough to power 700,000 homes by 2030.
Yet until now, that development has been stalled. The Cape Wind Project in Massachusetts has been embattled for more than a decade. Among those fighting it is billionaire Bill Koch, who lives on Massachusetts' Nantucket Sound and is co-chair of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. His brothers are fossil fuel barons and major political funders of climate denier politicians and initiatives Charles & David Koch. While the project was ultimately given the go-ahead, despite court challenges, the two utilities that had power purchase agreements with the project withdrew them in January. That project was expected to the first in the country, but now Rhode Island has beaten it to the punch.
“We are proud to celebrate breaking ground on the nation's first offshore wind farm in Rhode Island as it brings local, clean power to all Block Island residents and 300 new jobs to the community,” said Bruce Nilles, senior campaign director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign.
“However, this celebration is about something bigger: it highlights the nation's transition beyond dirty, outdated fossil fuels to affordable clean energy. This is a shining example of how American ingenuity can take us forward and position us as leaders in the global clean energy economy. Today on Block Island, we again prove that America can be a leader in creating a clean energy reality that ensures every person can breathe clean air, enjoy clean water and live in a world free from the threat of climate disruption.”
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Oil rigs around the world keep pulling crude oil out of the ground, but the global pandemic has sent shockwaves into the market. The supply is up, but demand has plummeted now that industry has ground to a halt, highways are empty, and airplanes are parked in hangars.
Under an agreement negotiated by community groups — represented by NRDC and the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project — the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) will remove thousands of lead water pipes by 2026 in order to address the chronically high lead levels in the city's drinking water and protect residents' health.
By Dave Cooke
So, they finally went and did it — the Trump administration just finalized a rule to undo requirements on manufacturers to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new passenger cars and trucks. Even with the economy at the brink of a recession, they went forward with a policy they know is bad for consumers — their own analysis shows that American drivers are going to spend hundreds of dollars more in fuel as a result of this stupid policy — but they went ahead and did it anyway.
By Richard Connor
A blood test that screens for more than 50 types of cancer could help doctors treat patients at an earlier stage than previously possible, a new study shows. The method was used to screen for more than 50 types of cancer — including particularly deadly variants such as pancreatic, ovarian, bowel and brain.
Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control showed a larger number of young people coming down with COVID-19 than first expected, with patients under the age of 45 comprising more than a third of all cases, and one in five of those patients requiring hospitalization. That also tends to be the group most likely to use e-cigarettes.