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Biden moves to expand offshore wind to Gulf of Mexico

·2 min read

July 20 (Reuters) - The Biden administration on Wednesday said it had identified 700,000 acres for possible offshore wind energy development in the Gulf of Mexico, seeking to expand a growing clean energy industry to a major U.S. oil and gas hub.

It also said President Joe Biden would direct his Interior Department to move ahead with offshore wind development in areas of the Atlantic coast where former President Donald Trump banned oil and gas development.

"Today we open up yet another coast and frontier in expanding offshore wind," a senior administration official told reporters.

The announcement was part of a slate of new measures to address climate change that Biden unveiled during a trip to a Massachusetts facility making offshore wind components.

The expansion of the nascent U.S. offshore wind industry is a cornerstone of Biden's plan to fight global warming and decarbonize the electricity sector by 2035.

Biden's Interior Department will seek public input on two areas in the Gulf. One is off the coast of Galveston, Texas, and the other near Lake Charles, Louisiana. If projects are ultimately developed there, they could power more than 3 million homes, the administration said.

The two areas will undergo further review to determine the locations most suitable for leasing.

In 2020, a government lab found that the Gulf's shallow waters and proximity to oil and gas infrastructure would support offshore wind development. Several Louisiana companies involved in offshore drilling were tapped to help build the nation's first offshore wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island.

The White House also said Biden would remove uncertainty cast over the industry from Trump's leasing ban on areas off the coasts of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

The 2020 withdrawal of those areas from leasing consideration did not specifically address offshore wind development.

(Reporting by Nichola Groom; additional reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)