United States

United States

Virginia prioritises oil & gas over wind

New legislation promotes offshore met masts, but not construction

Draft federal legislation designed to contribute to US "energy independence" and to create jobs in the US state of Virginia has been proposed. The Virginia Jobs and Energy Act primarily focuses on offshore oil and gas production, but is also designed to benefit offshore wind developers.

The act proposes rules for the permitting of meteorological masts for the monitoring of offshore wind resources, but its primary goal is to require the US Department of Interior (DoI) to conduct at least one offshore oil and gas lease sale per year in Virginian waters over a five year period. In addition, the DoI would be required to complete an already-planned oil and gas lease sale, known as lease sale 220, within a year of the act's adoption.

Up to 18,000 local jobs could be created as a result of the act, according to US congressman, Scott Rigell, who has proposed the bill. Revenue generated would also help fund the ecological restoration of the Chesapeake Bay, argues Rigell.

Waters off Virginia have attracted strong interest from offshore wind developers, but no development concessions have yet been awarded by either state authorities or the DoI’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (Boem). The latter is responsible for the auctioning of rights in federal waters. An auction for offshore wind rights in federal waters off Virginia has been expected this year.

The Virginia Jobs and Energy Act contrasts with the approach taken by Virginia’s coastal neighbour, Maryland, which recently passed offshore wind-specific legislation designed to ensure construction of a 200MW offshore wind farm within state waters.

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