As our country struggles toward urgent solutions for global warming and climate change, renewable energy sources are becoming an ever-larger object of hopes, plans, and resources. Among these renewable resources is offshore wind.
Rhode Island is head and shoulders above the other states in planning and executing offshore wind projects. U.S. waters now have seven active offshore wind turbines, including five off the coast of Rhode Island. About two dozen offshore wind projects are currently being proposed or planned off the East Coast, with four under construction or in the permitting process in or very close to Rhode Island. ecoRI News is committed to covering the development of wind farms with deep attention and commitment.
The permitting process involves the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, many state regulators dealing with coastal topics, the fishing industry, protectors of threatened species, and the public. In addition, many groups – some small and local; some financed by national oil-and-gas industry lobbyists -- are fighting offshore wind. Some of their arguments are calls for protection of marine mammals and sea habitats; others are more self-serving; and some are downright false.
All of the steps needed to construct a wind farm – from proposal and permitting through construction and opposition – require close reportage, and ecoRI News' coverage will examine the many facets of offshore wind, including what goes into the planning of an offshore wind farm; how it makes its way through the many layers of agencies and regulators; how the placement of the turbines is decided; what is known so far about the effects of wind turbines on sea life, using the Block Island Wind Farm as a guide; and the opposition to wind farms and the spread of misinformation in an effort to block wind farm development.