The U.S House of Representatives has passed the “Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act” seeking to reform U.S. energy policy and authorize major investments in research and development in transition to renewable and low-carbon energy sources.
The bill was passed Thursday by a vote of 220-185.
Included in the bill was an amendment by Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA03) to enforce Jones Act requirements for all offshore renewable energy production by clarifying that the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, a 1953 law governing offshore mineral and energy development, applies to lease sales for non-fossil fuel energy sources such as wind power, hydrokinetic, or ocean thermal energy conversion.
“My commonsense amendment simply clarifies that all existing requirements that govern offshore oil and natural gas extraction also apply to renewables,” explains Garamendi.
According to the American Wind Association, the United States’ offshore wind industry is poised for exponential growth over the next decade as states along the U.S. East Coast – Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia – drive up demand for clean energy. It says market projections anticipate up to 30,000 megawatts of offshore wind to be developed in U.S. waters by 2030, which would create up to 83,000 jobs and deliver $25 billion in annual economic output.
“Demand for offshore wind development in federal waters is strong, and Congress must act to ensure this burgeoning industry abides by federal laws and regulations including the Jones Act so we have the strongest possible labor and environmental protections,” said Garamendi.
“I have been a vocal proponent of the Jones Act during my time on the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. The Jones Act is the lifeblood for a U.S. maritime trade that supports 650,000 jobs and almost $100 billion in annual economic impact. Ensuring our nation’s offshore renewable energy investments are governed by the strongest labor protections, environmental requirements, and safety standards is commonsense,” Garamendi added.
The Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act now heads to the U.S. Senate where it could be presented for conference negotiation, although it is unlikely to be see further action this year, according to The National Law Review.