Cuomo to Zinke: Support Offshore Wind

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday called on Ryan Zinke, the secretary of the interior, to support New York’s offshore wind initiative by delineating and leasing at least four new wind energy areas recommended by the State’s Offshore Wind Master Plan. The governor’s letter, issued on the heels of a report that President Trump is hostile to wind power, also enclosed the state’s comments on the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s Call for Information and Nominations, which closed on Monday. 

“New York’s commitment to offshore wind is real and unwavering,” the governor wrote to Mr. Zinke. “Our first 90 megawatts of offshore wind energy” — a reference to Deepwater Wind’s proposed South Fork Wind Farm — “are already underway, we have initiated a process to procure at least an additional 800 megawatts by 2019, and the U.S. Department of Energy recently selected the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to head the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium.”

This represents merely a beginning, the governor wrote, as the state aims to develop 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030. “The realization of that goal will create thousands of new jobs and offer New Yorkers overwhelming benefits in the form of lower energy costs, a more resilient power grid, and a cleaner environment,” he wrote.

New York’s commitment to offshore wind, he said, “is smarter, cleaner, and safer than the frightening federal proposal to allow offshore drilling. Instead of trying to revive the fossil fuel industry, I call on you to join us in our efforts to build a 21st-century clean energy economy.”

The Trump administration said at the beginning of this year that it would allow new offshore oil and gas drilling in nearly all coastal waters, including along the Eastern Seaboard. A spill, the governor wrote to Mr. Zinke, “would threaten 60 percent of our state’s population that live along our tidal coastline and put at risk the tens of billions of dollars in economic activity and hundreds of thousands of jobs created by our ocean economy. Now is not the time to trade our coastal ecosystem, our fisheries and ports, and our marine and other wildlife for greenhouse gas-emitting fossil fuels.”

The governor’s call for support of offshore wind development closely followed a report on the news website Axios stating that Mr. Trump has “a visceral hatred of wind turbines,” believing that they offer a poor return on investment, blight coastlines, and obstruct views. “Trump has even told officials to ‘think of all the birds’ that wind turbines are killing,” according to Axios, “though sources familiar with these comments tell us they doubt the president actually cares about endangered wildlife.”

Nonetheless, Axios’s Amy Harder and Jonathan Swan wrote, the administration’s energy policy is contradictory. For example, Mr. Zinke’s department “is working with Democratic-led state governments to lease federal waters for wind off Massachusetts and nearby states, and also working to streamline permitting to make it easier for companies to build offshore wind farms.”