Wind power has grown significantly in the last few years. Because of state and federal policies, wind is now the largest source of renewable energy capacity in the country: Over 82,000 megawatts installed capacity, which is enough energy to power 24 million homes. In parts of the Midwest, wind is consistently delivering 30% of the energy used by consumers, and at times it tops 50%. And Wind is creating tremendous job growth, increasing to over 100,000 jobs, an increase of 32% from last year.The future for wind looks even better, as wind producers have plans to bring 136 gigawatts of energy online.
The future for wind looks even better. It is now the most affordable option for new electricity generation, and wind producers plan to bring 136 gigawatts of energy online.
This is good news—unless you’re in the dirty energy business. The success of wind energy has raised the ire of fossil fuel interests that are working at every level of government to put a stop to their competition. The hurdles they are erecting to block wind energy range from cuts to federal funding to review site plans for wind power, to making wind illegal and issuing fines on wind producers.
Just last week, the House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment pushed by Representative Andy Harris (R-Md.) that would prevent federal dollars from being used to conduct reviews of assessments of constructions plans for any wind projects within 24 nautical miles of the Maryland shore. This is focused on stopping a specific wind project approved by the Maryland Public Service Commission, but it would set a precedent for chilling offshore wind development throughout the coastal United States, which has tremendous offshore wind potential.
Some local ‘Not In My Back Yard’ (NIMBY) opposition is being used by Representative Harris to justify the stifling of Maryland’s offshore wind project, but this argument falls apart fairly quickly when you consider nobody wants their backyard to be consumed by the ocean. That is exactly what could happen to about one-third of Ocean City, according to a recent Climate Central report, if we do not get off fossil fuels and quickly transition to renewable energy to combat climate change.
The attack on wind energy is full speed ahead in North Carolina, where Governor Roy Cooper just signed a bill that would create a statewide moratorium on developing wind energy in the state. The bill was pushed based on the notion that military officials want to protect air space for training exercises, even though the Department of Defense has made no such claims. In fact, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has cited climate change as a national security issue, impacting the safety of our military personnel across the globe.
How about just making wind energy illegal? That’s what one Wyoming legislator actually tried to do earlier this year. While the bill died in committee, the legislature could be taking up legislation in August to increase the $1 per megawatt hour tax on wind to as much as $5. As wind companies unveil plans to invest billions on wind development in the state, this tax increase will stifle wind production and the tens of thousands of Wyoming jobs that will come with it. These jobs are sorely needed in Wyoming, as many coal miners are out of work due to the shift away from this dirty energy source.
The clean energy revolution is happening, and not by accident. There have been many key policy decisions to facilitate the development of clean energy in the United States. But just as policies can be created to help move forward, policies can be also be created to stifle renewables. That's why our sister organization Food & Water Action is working on local and national efforts to transition the United States to 100% clean renewable energy by 2035. Join the fight to get the us OFF Fossil Fuels!