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Biden's offshore wind energy plan is what the climate — and economy — needs

And yet I wonder: what GOP nonsense will Biden's wind farms inspire?
Photo illustration of U.S. President Jose Biden against a background of offshore wind turbines.
And they call the wind "Joe Biden" ...Anjali Nair / MSNBC; Getty Images

The Biden administration announced Monday that it was launching a plan to speed up the construction of offshore windmills to provide power to millions of Americans. And I, for one, cannot wait to see how the GOP and conservative media manage to take this smart, popular idea and try to turn it into something sinister.

In brief, the Biden administration hopes that new windmills can generate up to 30 gigawatts of energy before the next decade begins. That's almost double the amount of wind power generated in Texas, which produces the most wind energy in the country.

Here's how NBC News described the plan:

To accomplish that goal, the Interior Department will create a New Wind Energy Area offshore between Long Island and the New Jersey coast, where the administration will lease space, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said.

The Interior Department also announced it would move ahead with a key environmental review needed to proceed with permitting for Ocean Wind, a major project planned off the coast of New Jersey, which would be the third commercial offshore wind project for the U.S.

It's a very small sample size, but the reaction to this news inside my apartment was "Wow! That's so cool!"

For a slightly larger sample size, we turn to the Pew Research Center, which last year found that 83 percent of Americans are in favor of building more wind turbine farms. The survey also determined that 75 percent of Republicans are in favor of expanding wind power use, which came as a surprise to me.

That statistic tracks with a study published in Energy Policy in 2018, which found, among other things, that "Democrats and Republican opponents overestimate Republican opposition" to proposed offshore wind energy projects. But can you blame me/us for thinking so?

In the almost two years since progressive Democrats introduced the Green New Deal, Republicans have taken horrible glee in beating the set of proposals with a rhetorical stick, even as they do nothing to address climate change. See, for example, the lies told during Texas' historic winter storm this year, which shut off power to residents throughout the state.

Gov. Greg Abbott at one point claimed that the outages showed "how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America. ... It just shows that fossil fuel is necessary for the state of Texas, as well as other states." Fox News pundit and professional troll Tucker Carlson agreed: "Unbeknownst to most people, the Green New Deal came to Texas; the power grid in the state became totally reliant on windmills." (The truth is that while Texas does produce the most wind energy in the country, like I said earlier, it's still only about 10 percent of the power generated in winter; the outages were due more to natural gas freezing in pipes.)

That was easy enough a set of lies to peddle when dealing with a massive proposal that was still ephemeral — it's going to be harder to argue against a project that the Biden administration suggests could "directly employ more than 44,000 people, with tens of thousands more jobs created by increased economic activity in nearby communities."

But hey, it's possible that they will find some weird conspiracy to latch on to here. Maybe it'll be a redux of the 5G towers scare that took over the United Kingdom, with claims that the windmills will cause a new virus outbreak? Or a variation on former President Donald Trump's claim that wind energy "kills all the birds"? Or maybe they'll get creative and start a hoax that says offshore turbines will electrify the water around beaches and lead to children's being shocked to death as they play in the shallows. (If this last one actually catches on, I apologize in advance.)

Regardless of the form it takes, I would be extremely surprised to see a principled argument form against this expansion of renewable energy. For now, the suspense is killing me.