Washington, D.C.—Today, Congresswoman Deborah Ross (NC-02) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) led 36 of their House and Senate colleagues in calling for the repeal of a Trump-era prohibition on new lease sales for offshore wind energy projects off the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida in the final text of the bipartisan innovation legislation. Included in the House-passed America COMPETES Act as an amendment offered by Congresswoman Ross, but not in the Senate-passed United States Innovation and Competition Act, this provision would overturn a 10-year offshore wind leasing moratorium set to go into effect on July 1, 2022. Unless Congress acts, this moratorium will hinder progress towards our clean energy goals and put tens of thousands of jobs at risk in North Carolina and across the country.

The letter read in part: “[This provision] would overturn this arbitrary offshore wind leasing ban to enable those in North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida—states that are home to some of the highest offshore wind energy capacity potentials in the country—to advance offshore wind projects along the coastline. This critical provision would jumpstart clean energy development at a time when it is needed most, and ensure that these states are free to be a part of this competitive new industry.”

In September 2020, President Trump signed orders prohibiting offshore leasing for energy exploration, development, or production off the coasts of these four states, including offshore wind energy. Section 71106 of the America COMPETES Act would overturn this 10-year ban. However, this repeal was not included in the Senate version of the legislation. A conference of House Members and Senators is currently negotiating the final version of the legislation, the Bipartisan Innovation Act, comprehensive legislation to bolster America’s global leadership, manufacturing, supply chain security, and innovative capability.

This letter is just the latest in Congresswoman Ross’ ongoing efforts to create a thriving offshore wind industry for North Carolina. Today, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is holding its wind energy auction for two lease areas off the coast of North Carolina, located within the Wilmington East Wind Energy Area off the Brunswick County coast. BOEM also recently announced that it will explore two new potential wind leasing areas off of the Outer Banks, opening even more possibilities for North Carolina to take part in this $140 billion industry. Congresswoman Ross has been urging BOEM to advance this lease sale and identify new wind energy areas off the North Carolina coast for over a year, leading her North Carolina colleagues in a bipartisan letter to the agency in April 2021. She also introduced the Restoring Offshore Wind Opportunities Act with Congressman Paul Tonko (NY-20) to repeal the moratorium last year.

North Carolina is well-positioned to lead the nation’s offshore wind industry. The state ranks first among east coast states in both technical potential for offshore wind generation capacity and manufacturing workforce.

A copy of the letter is available here.