EXCLUSIVE: Texas Official Says Biden Admin Green Power Initiative Could Cause ‘Significant’ Environmental Damage

A Republican official in Texas is opposing the Biden administration’s effort to bring offshore wind to the coast of the Lone Star state due in part to concerns that the technology could have negative environmental impacts.

Texas Land Commissioner Dawn Buckingham filed comments with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) on Monday expressing her opposition to the agency’s plans to hold a 410,000-acre offshore wind lease sale near Texas in the Gulf of Mexico. Buckingham expressed her worry that offshore wind, a key green technology underpinning the Biden administration’s climate agenda, will cause unnecessary ecological damage while posing other economic and logistical concerns about the plan.

“As of now, I see a number of significant concerns — economic, practical, and environmental — that must be addressed before a prospective wind lessee is permitted to cross state-owned submerged land,” Buckingham wrote in her Monday letter, obtained exclusively by the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Even if a lessee were to actually see a path to eking out a profit, introducing hundreds of wind turbines across 410,060 acres of ecologically-sensitive ocean is reckless and directly contradicts the Biden administration’s recent position when leasing federal land in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas development,” Buckingham wrote, referencing the administration’s legal efforts to gum up a Gulf of Mexico oil lease by imposing protections for the Rice’s whale.

BOEM Auction Comments (Buckingham) by Nick Pope on Scribd

The administration’s concern for the Rice’s whale in that instance was disingenuous, according to Buckingham, because the federal government does not seem interested in thoroughly investigating whether the past several years’ upticks in whale deaths along the east coast are linked to contemporaneous offshore wind development. The Biden administration’s position on any potential link between offshore wind and whale deaths is that there is not yet any acceptable, robust scientific research connecting the two.

In addition to raising concerns about the impacts that offshore wind development may have on whales, Buckingham further expressed similar worries that offshore wind developments could jeopardize migratory birds that transit the area and disturb marine ecosystems that provide many Texans with their livelihoods.

Buckingham also references the fact that BOEM’s recent attempt to sell offshore leases in the Gulf of Mexico flopped, with two of three available parcels — including one proximate to Texas — garnering zero bids from developers.

The American offshore wind industry writ large has struggled over the course of the past calendar year as inflation, high borrowing costs, supply chain problems and logistical issues have troubled developers up and down the east coast. While some analysts expected to see the industry rebound in 2024, the same combination of problems has prompted several more of the cancellations and renegotiation requests that were piling up by the end of last year.

Despite these struggles, the administration is sticking to the spirit of its goal to have offshore wind produce enough electricity to power 10 million homes by 2030. The Department of the Interior (DOI) announced Wednesday that it plans to hold a dozen offshore wind lease sales by 2028, which contrasts with the four sales and bare minimum acreage the agency intends to lease for offshore oil and gas activity over the same time period.

Offshore wind has caused some division within the environmentalist community. Some green organizations downplay concerns about whales and tout the technology as an essential piece of the zero-emissions energy future, while other environmental groups have sued the government and alleged that environmental reviews for greenlit projects were inadequate or otherwise in violation of the law.

BOEM did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

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