Albany wind project cuts federal funding to avoid permit requirements

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Federal permit requirements remain one of the biggest obstacles to the federal government’s goal of expanding America’s clean energy supply.

Just look at what happened last week in upstate New York, where a planned wind power project in the middle of the Hudson River has been stalled for months due to federal safety rules. permission. To speed things up, the Port of Albany announced it would forgo more than $29 million in federal funding allocated to the project. By dropping the funding, the port can now ignore the federal bureaucracy that came with it, the Albany Times Union reports.

The $350 million facility had been in jeopardy since earlier this year when the port decided to clear some 80 acres of land along the river to make room for the turbines, the newspaper reports. But the port hadn’t received the proper federal permits before felling several trees on Beacon Island, and the ensuing skirmish with the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) halted construction for months. . By dropping its federal grant application, however, the port can move forward without further MARAD review.

The situation in Albany is a prime example of the need for federal permit reform and a telling illustration of how environmental regulations can get in the way of environmentally friendly development like wind power.

As I’ve written before, expanding wind power generation is a “cornerstone” of the Biden administration’s green energy plans, including the ambitious goal to completely decarbonize the U.S. energy supply. by 2035. But if transitioning to green energy is a necessary response to the global warming emergency, someone forgot to tell federal government regulators.

When it comes to offshore wind projects, for example, Department of Energy data released last month shows that the United States currently generates a maximum of 42 megawatts (MW) of electricity. A further 18,581 MW of potential offshore wind power is tied to permitting processes, some of which can take years. (For comparison, an average-sized nuclear power plant can produce about 1 gigawatt of electricity, or 1,000 megawatts.)

That’s a lot of potential energy supply tied to bureaucracy.

Although some environmental and regulatory reviews are required before a large-scale construction project, there is ample evidence that federal permitting requirements increase the time and cost of power generation projects. As RaisonAs Christian Britschgi reported, environmental impact statements take an average of 4.5 years and run to 650 pages. And they are often used by opponents of new development for reasons that have nothing to do with the environment. In July, for example, the Department of Energy canceled two potential wind power developments off Long Island due to concerns about “visibility from nearby beaches.”

Solar and wind power will still require “dirty” power to provide backup power, but green power projects that aren’t built (or are built much slower) can’t decarbonize the atmosphere.

Federal funds for the Hudson River Wind Project were part of the $1 billion infrastructure package passed last year, and the Times Union reports that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D – NY) used his influence to ensure the project was funded with this bill.

Too bad the infrastructure bill – like the recently passed bill that averted a government shutdown – didn’t include crucial reforms to ensure that all that taxpayer money would result in real expansion of the green energy.

While there may be a silver lining here: By ditching federal money and going ahead with the wind project, New York is streamlining both the construction process and proving that states do not need federal assistance for these purposes.

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