Today the Obama administration announced an agreement that would speed up approval and help expedite the construction of offshore wind turbines across the Great Lakes region. This new, faster regulatory review aims to quicken the pace of offshore wind farm development without sacrificing safety and environmental concerns, which are always of the utmost importance when new wind farm locations are assessed. Five of the states surrounding the Great Lakes region have already signed the agreement – Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania. The other states in the region – Illinois, Ohio and Wisconsin – have not signed the agreement but still could at a later time.
The agreement is not a simple one. More than ten federal agencies are involved, including the Pentagon, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Any new construction would also have to be approved by the federal government and the state in which the wind turbine resides, since states own the land beneath the Great Lakes up to the international border with Canada. This deal is not unprecedented, however. A similar deal was struck to facilitate construction of offshore wind turbines across the Atlantic coast, so there is good reason to believe these Great Lakes projects will happen at some point.