Industry Today Volume 22 Issue 4

U.S., however states along the coast includ- ing Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia have committed to buy power from as many as 10 projects expected to be built offshore in the coming years. Collectively, east coast states have committed to powering more than 13 mil- lion homes with offshore wind by 2035. Offshore wind energy must be developed responsibly and swiftly to meet the demands of the climate crisis. That is why the National Wildlife Federation is involved, monitoring the offshore leasing and development plans and working with a range of partners and scientific experts to identify key wildlife issues and push regulators and developers to advance protective solutions. As an organization founded over 85 years ago to create a powerful voice for conser- vation by bringing together people who hunt, fish, watch and love wildlife, connecting with the saltwater angling community to hear their interest and concerns with multiple projects moving forward offshore is a top priority. As America charges forward to harness the tremendous energy and economic potential of offshore wind energy, it is critical to recognize and address the concerns of communities that may be affected by its development. Just as the National Wildlife Federation needs to see strong wildlife protections included before we can support any offshore wind development plan, our partners in the recreational fishing community have been clear that their support is conditional on several key factors. There must be guaranteed fishing access to the base of the turbines, opportunities to provide input on siting and project plans, and a commitment to scientific monitoring of important fish species before, during and after construction. Developers and state and federal agencies have all signaled support for these principles in concept, and the coming months offer multiple opportunities to put those assurances into place. As offshore wind planning and development decisions are made along the coast, recreational anglers must have a seat at the table to speak up for responsible development practices as off- shore wind projects move forward. By engaging stakeholders like recreational anglers early and often, offshore wind planners have an opportunity to build a future where fish, wildlife, and local communities benefit as we build a critically needed new clean energy industry in America. By Zach Cockrum, director of conservation partnerships, the National Wildlife Federation INDUSTRY TODAY 37 FEATURE - OFFSHORE WIND ENERGY