Jamestown Press

RI - Opinion: Time is now for offshore wind

With states committing to a transition away from fossil fuels and toward clean renewable energy, I know we have what we need to take action on climate and protect our oceans from future disasters. State Sen. Dawn Euer (DJamestown/ Newport) is chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee.

April 20 marked 12 years since the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.

The disaster released more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, making it the largest marine oil spill in history. Its legacy includes more than $500 million in losses to the recreation industry, $1 billion of losses to the seafood industry, and a 4-8 percent decrease in the regional housing market. For years after, the spill continued to affect marine wildlife in the region.

While this tragedy was monumental in its size and devastation, oil spills are not rare events. While separated by invisible jurisdictional lines, we all share one ocean, so an oil spill anywhere is an oil spill everywhere. That’s why, as the Ocean State, we must do everything we can do to protect our coasts, wildlife, and economy.

The federal government has demonstrated a renewed commitment to climate change, science, and equity, however, it also has continued to auction off acres of the U.S. coast for drilling without considering the greenhouse gas emissions that could result.

In the face of uncertainty, states are leading the way, not just in banning and restricting offshore drilling, but in transitioning our energy towards clean renewable energy.

In 2019, I, along with legislators from eight other states, worked on a coordinated action to ban offshore drilling. Since then, 10 states have banned or restricted drilling.

As we continue to move away from offshore drilling, we must look toward the promises of offshore wind. The transition to clean renewable energy is essential in our fight against climate change. Offshore wind offers us an incredible opportunity to do that. It is our future and the future is now.

We’re in the critical decade for climate action. The climate crisis demands we promptly cut greenhouse gas emissions and transition our energy to renewable and clean sources.

Offshore wind offers us an opportunity to mitigate climate impacts, protect human health, and conserve our ocean. This transition is larger than just the action of one state. It only can be achieved through a whole of government approach, coordination between states, and critical collaboration with communities. That’s why I’m part of the Coastal Working Group through the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators.

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