WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. offshore areas hold enormous potential for wind energy development near the nation's highest areas of electricity demand – coastal metropolitan centers, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said today.
“More than three-fourths of the nation's electricity demand comes from coastal states and
the wind potential off the coasts of the lower 48 states actually exceeds our entire U.S. electricity demand,” Salazar told a summit meeting of 25X'25 America's Energy Future, a group working to lower America's carbon emissions.
Citing major findings of a report he commissioned from Interior scientists, Salazar also said the Outer Continental Shelf energy resources report found huge information gaps about the location and extent of offshore oil and gas resources.
“Along the Atlantic Coast, for example, the seismic data we have is twenty-five years old,” Salazar said. “How should we gather the information we currently lack about our offshore oil and gas resources? How do we manage the costs of gathering seismic data? Are there areas on the OCS that should be of priority for information collection?”
Salazar said information from the U.S. Geological Survey-Minerals Management Service Report will be a starting point for public comment meetings around the country in the next few weeks, starting in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and New Orleans, Louisiana, next week. The Executive Summary is online at http://www.doi.gov/ocs.
“Yes, we can build a clean energy future,” Salazar told the summit, “but it will require American energy, American ingenuity and American courage to tackle our dependence on foreign oil and the growing perils of climate change.”
“The realities of climate change are upon us,” Salazar said. “For too long we have ignored the true costs of our energy use. Building America's clean energy future is front and center on President Obama's agenda. He knows that if we are turn our economy around; that if we are to lead the next great technological transformation in our world; and that if we are to create millions of new clean-energy jobs here at home, we must finally take the moon-shot on energy independence.”
Oil, gas, and coal will be part of that plan, but they alone are not enough, Salazar said, noting that the United States must import almost two-thirds of its oil and most of that goes to the transportation sector. “America's own oil and natural gas supplies are limited,” the Secretary noted. “We sit on 3 percent of the world's oil reserves. We consume 25 percent of its oil. Our dependence on foreign oil is a national security problem, an environmental security problem, and an economic security problem.”
Interior, which managers of one-fifth of the nation's land mass and 1.7 billion acres of ocean off the U.S. coasts, will have a major role in creating the nation's clean-energy future, Salazar said. The Department's Bureau of Land Management has identified about 20.6 million acres of public land with wind energy potential in the 11 western states and 29.5 million acres with solar energy potential in the six southwestern states. There are also over 140 million acres of public land in the western states and Alaska with geothermal resource potential.
There is also significant wind and wave potential in U.S. offshore waters. The National Renewable Energy Lab has identified more than 1,000 gigawatts of wind potential off the Atlantic coast, and more than 900 gigawatts of wind potential off the Pacific Coast. The Lab estimates that the class 5 wind potential off the coasts of the lower 48 states exceeds the entire U.S. electricity demand. Currently, there are more than 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind projects proposed in the United States.
“We are opening our doors not just to oil and gas and coal, but also to the wise development of solar, wind and wave, biofuels, geothermal, and small hydro on America's lands,” Salazar said.
Video, audio and text of the Secretary's remarks as well as more information on Interior's Outer Continental Shelf responsibilities are online at http://www.doi.gov/ocs.