OpinionTrending Commentary

Energy Companies Want Nothing To Do With Biden’s Botched Offshore Wind Projects


Is investor interest in committing billions of dollars to new offshore wind projects starting to wane in the United States? If the results of last week’s heavily-touted Biden administration lease sale in the Western Gulf of Mexico are any indication, that could be the case.

The auction resulted in a single tract of 102,480 acres offshore Louisiana attracting a winning bid $5.6 million from German wind company RWE. Two tracts offshore Texas that were also offered attracted no bids at all. That low bid level is a tiny fraction of the billions of dollars in bids received for leases off the northeast Atlantic coast in February, 2022.

Several factors could be at play in creating the lack of interest in this Gulf of Mexico sale, perhaps most prominent among them the fact that, since wind developers began conducting seismic testing for those Atlantic projects last fall, the dead carcasses of more than 60 baleen whales have washed up onto the beaches of New Jersey and New York. While the Biden regulators claim no cause-and-effect connection exists between the developments and whale deaths exists, a rising chorus of critics begs to disagree.

Former California gubernatorial candidate and climate activist Michael Shellenberger serves as executive producer of a new documentary released in August that claims to have scientifically established a direct connection. “The film documents surprisingly loud, high-decibel sonar emitted by wind industry vessels when measured with state-of-the-art hydrophones,” Shellenberger recently wrote at the New York Post. “And it shows that the wind industry’s increased boat traffic is correlated directly with specific whale deaths.”

The fisheries industry is also concerned about the negative impacts offshore wind development will have on its continued ability to conduct its business. Meghan Lapp, a spokesperson for The Center for Sustainable Fisheries, testified to a congressional hearing in May that the undersea cabling and other infrastructure of the wind developments will make it impossible for offshore wind and the fishing industry to co-exist. She also noted that the federal agency NOAA is failing to enforce its own regulations governing incidental takes of marine mammals as they relate to offshore wind in the same way the agency has consistently enforced them related to offshore oil and gas development.

RWE told reporters that the offshore Louisiana tract was attractive for several reasons. One such reason is the state’s strong existing coastal port and supply chain infrastructure, which together constitute one of the most key foundations of Louisiana’s economy.

Another is, of course, subsidies, invariably a crucial consideration for the rent-seeking wind industry. Unlike Texas, Louisiana has a state goal to install 5 GW of offshore wind infrastructure by 2035. One can only wonder if the state’s Republican-dominated legislature will allow that goal to stand once members are made fully aware of the likely negative impacts on Louisiana’s own robust fishing industry, which provides thousands of jobs to residents in the southern third of the state.

That is not to mention potential negative impacts on the Gulf of Mexico’s own populations of both sea mammals and wide variety of migratory birds. Every spring, from March through May, literally millions of migratory birds traverse the Gulf of Mexico. Indeed, as the chart here compiled by Biden’s own Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) shows, the bird migration path known as the Mississippi Flyway flows directly through the very same area where RWE plans to construct its gigantic wind towers with blades longer than a football field.

In other slides from this same presentation, BOEM says that more than 2.1 billion birds from 395 separate species traverse the Gulf of Mexico each year. Importantly, a footnote for one of the slides reads “*This estimate only applies to nocturnal migrants with a northward trajectory, thus is a conservative estimate.”

You just cannot make this stuff up. You really can’t.

The question becomes whether the same Biden regulators who don’t appear to be properly enforcing regulations governing incidental taking of sea mammals will make any real effort to quantify the carnage when these mammoth wind blades become aviary Cuisinarts once the projects go active.

Could any or all of this help explain the extremely low investor interest in this particular lease sale? It sure seems possible.

David Blackmon is an energy writer and consultant based in Texas. He spent 40 years in the oil and gas business, where he specialized in public policy and communications.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.


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