Trump Threatens Executive Order Targeting Offshore Wind Development

donald trump holds campaign rally in wildwood nj

Trump, “We are going to make sure that that ends on day one. I’m going to write it out in an executive order.” (Credit: Hannah Beier/Bloomberg)

by | May 13, 2024

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In a recent address during an oceanfront rally in Wildwood, New Jersey, former President Donald Trump explicitly intended to issue an executive order targeting offshore wind development should he secure a second term in office. This statement marks his most direct threat to the burgeoning offshore wind industry.

During the rally, Trump derided offshore wind projects, labeling them as lethal for birds and whales, and pledged to take decisive action against them.

Donald Trump:

“We are going to make sure that that ends on day one. I’m going to write it out in an executive order.”

While Trump did not provide specific details regarding the contents of the executive order, it could potentially involve directives for conducting new studies on the impact of offshore wind and halting the permitting of new projects in the interim. President Joe Biden utilized a similar strategy early in his presidency, ordering a moratorium on offshore oil leasing during his first week in office.

Proponents of Offshore Wind Farms

Developers within the offshore wind sector anticipate significant economic benefits from the industry, projecting up to $25 billion in annual output across the United States. This growth is expected to drive demand for specialty steel, new ships, and other equipment, contributing to job creation and economic expansion.

Supporters of offshore wind turbines highlight various advantages, foremost being their strategic positioning near areas with a pressing demand for clean energy. Approximately 40% of the global populace resides within a 60-mile radius of coastlines, where energy requirements are typically elevated due to dense urbanization. Consequently, offshore wind farms are poised to be situated near regions with the greatest energy needs.

Research indicates that offshore wind energy can potentially mitigate energy expenses, particularly during severe weather events such as cold spells, which escalate energy demands and wholesale prices. Concurrently, the Department of Energy asserts that besides curbing carbon emissions, this technology would enhance public health by reducing air pollution from fossil fuels.

Advocates for offshore wind emphasize its role as a source of safe, reliable, and large-scale renewable energy production, offering good-paying union jobs and significant public health and economic benefits. They urge policymakers to embrace this emerging American industry to maximize its potential for creating domestic jobs, manufacturing opportunities, and investment.

Effects on Whales and Other Wildlife

Despite Trump’s accusations linking offshore wind farms to adverse environmental impacts such as whale deaths, scientific evidence does not support such claims. While there has been an increase in humpback whale deaths since 2016, experts attribute many of these fatalities to factors such as boat strikes or entanglements rather than offshore wind development. Concerns raised by government scientists primarily revolve around potential noise pollution, increased vessel traffic, and habitat changes associated with the industry.

In November 2022, Vineyard Wind began the installation of cables south of Martha’s Vineyard. Following this, the initial turbine components were transported to the lease area, marking the onset of major construction activities in the fall of 2023. According to NOAA Fisheries, there have been no reported incidents of whale injury or mortality attributable to the project or any other project of similar nature. Similarly, despite assertions made during a misinformation campaign in 2023, South Fork has not been implicated in any whale deaths.

A Polarized Nation

Trump’s explicit threat to issue an executive order targeting offshore wind development underscores the polarized views surrounding renewable energy policies in the United States. While proponents highlight the economic and environmental benefits of offshore wind, opponents, including Trump, continue to express concerns regarding its alleged negative impacts. The future trajectory of offshore wind development in the United States may hinge on the outcome of future elections and the policy decisions of incoming administrations.

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