The Biden administration’s short time in office has proven to have a significant impact in the field of sustainability. Shortly after the inauguration, President Biden re-entered the United States back into the Paris Agreement, two years after being formally withdrawn by the former President, Donald Trump. Signed in December of 2015 by 196 parties, the Paris Agreement exemplifies a unanimous decision to implement sustainable initiatives and lower carbon emissions for the sake of curbing climate change.
The decision to re-enter into the Paris Agreement has sent shock waves of joy throughout the country as many individuals are eager to shift towards a greener future.
Just a few months later, the administration has held true to its promise of sustainable initiatives by announcing the installation of a wind-powered farm to be erected off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. The wind farm will be the first of its kind in the entire country and will comprise of nearly 84 wind turbines, generating up to 800 megawatts of renewable energy. The wind farm, Vineyard Wind, delivers roughly 3% of the 30 gigawatts that Biden previously announced as a part of his environmental initiatives, making it a small but mighty step on the path toward a net-zero future.
Secretary Dab Halland previously made history as the first Native American to be appointed a cabinet secretary in the US. Now, she is making history again by spearheading this initiative and helping to lead the US on its way to aiding in the goals of the Paris Agreement. Halland states that “the approval of this project is an important step toward advancing the administration’s goals to create good-paying union jobs while combating climate change and powering our nation.”
Climate Change in the US
The United States’ history with climate change has been a roller-coaster throughout the past few decades. A new president every 4-8 years comes with an abundance of varying views on the environment. That, coupled with each of the 50 states containing their own micro-government, the United States’ role in sustainable initiatives has had its fair share of turmoil.
Perhaps one of the most notable environmental advocates might come as a surprise to many individuals, for he is infamous, but for a very different reason – Richard Nixon. Nixon became a notorious advocate for the environment during his short time in office, enforcing an array of laws and regulations to combat climate change back in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The Clean Air Act, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Environmental Policy Act were all implemented under Nixon and were all done with the environment’s best interest in mind.
The public was torn on these policies and laws. During the second half of the 20th century, the science behind climate change was present, but not abundant as it is today. It was considered to be a relatively new concept and therefore had a great deal of resistance from the general public. Many believed it to be a hoax, while others took it seriously and began advocating for even more policies and regulations to be put into place. In fact, not only was the concept of climate change relatively new to the United States, but to many other countries as well.
It wasn’t until 1979, almost a decade after Nixon employed the National Environmental Policy Act, that the first formal environmental role was acknowledged at the World Climate Conference in Geneva. Later this created a environmental awareness domino effect that has brought us to where we are today - the implementation of the country’s first offshore wind farm.
Offshore Turbines vs. Land Turbines, Is There a Difference?
Both offshore and land turbines work in similar ways. The strong winds turn the blades which generate the energy. That energy then travels down to the base of the turbine, where it can be stored in a generator and utilized in the future.
The main differentiating aspect between the two is where they are located. Land turbines can be situated throughout any part of the country, typically in large, open fields. They are a good option for landlocked states that are looking for renewable energy options and have available land to spare.
In contrast, offshore turbines are only an option for coastal states, as these large machines are usually located within 50 miles of the coastline.
There are many benefits to wind turbines in general, even more so when installed offshore. For starters, offshore turbines don’t require any land, making them extremely intriguing for certain areas that are densely populated. And considering nearly 80% of the US population lives near the coast, offshore turbines are far more desirable.
In addition to saving land, offshore turbines have the ability to generate more power due to the coastal winds being significantly stronger than those that are more inland. This means that governments installing this renewable energy will get a better return on investment and even lower emissions.
The implementation of this wind farm shows to be very promising for the future of sustainability within the United States. If all goes well with this initiative, we can expect to see even more offshore wind farms pop-up throughout the rest of the country in the near future – leading to lower emissions and an overall more sustainable world.