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Energy lobby puts on full court press before Trump-era offshore moratorium kicks in.

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Christopher Neely's picture
Independent, Local News Organization

Journalist for nearly a decade with keen interest in local energy policies for cities and national efforts to facilitate a renewable revolution. 

  • Member since 2017
  • 760 items added with 378,147 views
  • Apr 19, 2022

Offshore wind energy has enjoyed significant momentum as the star of the next phase of the world’s renewable energy revolution. Yet, just as the U.S. is getting started on their effort to catch Europe in offshore wind capacity, a moratorium is set to place that would block off likely a quarter of the country’s offshore space for renewable energy. 

As the 2020 election came to a head, former president Donald Trump signed a 10-year moratorium on all offshore energy leasing off the shores of the southeastern U.S., from North Carolina, down to Florida, extending around the southern tip of the Sunshine State and into the eastern Gulf of Mexico. The moratorium includes leasing for all types of energy, not just renewable energy, which raises further questions about Trump’s motivations for signing the executive order. 

The moratorium is set to go into effect on July 1 of this year, and does not impact any leases signed before July 1, which has created something of a mad dash across the finish line. Late last month, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced the award of an offshore lease to Wilmington East project, which sits on the fence between North and South Carolina. According to reports, the project is estimated to have a capacity for up to 1.5 gigawatts of power. 

A study by firm Wood Mackenzie estimates the stakes are high for the order. The U.S. has a goal for 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030, and 110GW by 2050, and would generate tens of thousands of jobs and billions in investment. To cut the southeast off from this projected economic boom would hurt both the southeastern local economies, and the country’s ability to reach its offshore goals. 

Since Trump signed the decade-long moratorium as an executive order, President Joe Biden cannot simply reverse it. Taking the moratorium off the books will require both houses of Congress to pass bills aimed at undoing the order. This has set off another mad dash, though this time a political one. Energy lobbyists have been writing letters to lawmakers throughout the year, urging passage of bills to undo the order. The U.S National Association of Manufacturers, the Southeastern Wind Coalition and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have each signed onto letters urging Congress to take action. 

Trump’s ideas behind the moratorium is even more mysterious when one considers the approach taken by his administration early in his presidency, issuing a statements that the U.S. coast is largely an untapped energy resource the country has a mandate to tap into if it is going to not only survive, but compete with China. 

Have you been impacted by this moratorium? I would love to hear what you’re hearing.  


Julian Silk's picture
Julian Silk on Apr 19, 2022

This is a valuable post.  More details on this memorandum are available at


It is a reasonable guess, though unprovable, that the Memorandum was passed to kill offshore wind development in this region.  A good analysis of this dislike for offshore wind is at

Without taking a position on offshore wind development, which is really at the heart of this issue, let me point people to the report at

and especially the statement, "Many large ports in the Southeast region could be used as staging areas and for component manufacturing, such as the Port of Virginia, Port of Charleston, and the Port of Savannah. There is existing economic activity in industries similar to offshore wind in the Southeast, so the regional workforce and infrastructure could contribute to offshore wind in the future."  If offshore wind development will be done, it is a reasonable inference from the report that the Southeast U.S. region is one of the best places to do it.

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