Photo: Kim Hansen, Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0
As it stands, it typically takes a staggering 7 years -- at the very least -- for an offshore wind project to receive federal approval to begin construction. And as we've seen with the infamous Cape Wind project, there's plenty of red tape on the local and state levels as well. So its no surprise that the the US is seriously lagging in the offshore wind power sector. But the Dept. of the Interior looks like it's about to address the persisting issues with the current, muddled system: Secretary Ken Salazar has announced a "major new initiative" designed to speed up the process, and to pave the way for wind power to take root off the Atlantic coast. The AP reports:
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar vowed Tuesday to spur offshore wind projects in the Atlantic Ocean by expediting permits and identifying promising areas for wind power ... Salazar said he will institute a "smart permitting process" that could result in leases issued within two years, instead of seven years or more.Finally, some long overdue attention to what's been a disastrous permitting process. Granted, the industry is still in its infancy, but subjecting wind power proposals to redundant permitting processes and holding them up for years has left us far behind in offshore wind. It took Cape Wind 8 years to receive federal approval -- Salazar signed the lease just last month. And that's the first offshore project to be OK'd in the states so far.
...Salazar said he and other federal officials will work with governors in 11 Atlantic Coast states to identify promising areas for wind development. If no serious problems are identified, leases could be issued late next year or in early 2012.
Details are scarce as to what the that "smart permitting process" will entail, precisely, besides seeking to coordinate state and federal requirements. But if it does cut the time it takes to land a permit from 7 years to 2, it will be major progress indeed.