Senators from Both Sides Agree: Time to Rev Up Wind Energy

It's a difficult time for America. Millions of Americans cannot find work. Manufacturing plants and factories are being closed and American jobs are being shipped overseas. The federal deficit just reached $1.3 trillion. We borrow more money than we lend, and we buy more than we sell.

We also have an unhealthy and embarrassing addiction to dirty fossil fuels which is making us sick, polluting our environment, and sending some of the money we do have overseas.

Thankfully, we've also got solutions. One of them is a bipartisan bill in the Senate that would stimulate development of clean energy to replace fossil fuels, and create lasting American jobs.

Senators Carper, Snowe, Brown, and Collins, have introduced an important piece of legislation to provide critical financial incentives for the investment and production of offshore wind energy. This bill extends tax credits for offshore wind facilities through 2020, sending a clear signal to companies and investors that wind has continued federal support, just like the oil and gas industry has had for all these years.

Most of the problems facing America today can be solved, or at least lessened, if we make a real commitment to renewable, sustainable, clean energy, and specifically, to offshore wind.

Making offshore wind development a priority in this country would create hundreds of thousands of permanent jobs that cannot be shipped overseas. These jobs would be in the fields of research & development, manufacturing, construction, installation, and maintenance, just to name a few. Good paying, sustainable jobs right here in America.

Not only will this help to reduce our debt, it will also help us regain our footing in the global economy and reclaim our position as makers instead of takers.

The world is moving on without us. As we sit paralyzed by debates about continued drilling for oil, Europe and China are leading the way in the global renewable energy market. The longer we wait, the tougher it will be to compete.

We can end our addiction to fossil fuels. Offshore wind and other renewable energy sources like land-based wind and solar can generate enough power and electricity to permanently end our oil addiction. Offshore wind power is clean and abundant and it won't run out. It will also never pollute the environment, make us sick, or contribute to the disastrous effects of global climate change.

The good news is that we are making some strides. Just this month, Secretary Salazar signed the first lease for commercial offshore wind energy, which would make Cape Wind the first wind farm on the Outer Continental Shelf. Another handful of offshore wind projects are being considered off the coasts of Delaware, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maine, and even Ohio, in Lake Erie. These projects need to be done right and fill undergo full environmental reviews. They should be sited in appropriate areas to minimize disturbance to wildlife, but we believe this is achievable.

Google recently announced it would help to finance a sub-sea cable network off America's mid-Atlantic coast, which will help offshore wind developers connect to the U.S. power grid. This transmission project will stretch 350 miles along the eastern seaboard from New Jersey to Virginia and will help bring offshore wind power to the population centers that need it most.

But we need to do a lot more to jump-start the offshore wind industry. We need to send a strong signal to companies and investors that this growing industry is stable and will have continued federal support.

We urge Congress to pass the Carper-Snowe-Brown-Collins bill as soon as possible, in order to make clear the path to our rightful place as leaders on the global renewable energy stage.