Not only is offshore wind power better for the planet compared to oil and gas, it’s also better for taxpayers. That’s according to a new analysis from the Center for American Progress, a nonpartisan policy research institute.
“Americans are getting significantly more return on investment from offshore wind energy lease sales than they are from oil and gas lease sales” per acre, said Michael Freeman, a conservation policy analyst for the Center and author of the report.
Offshore leases are essentially patches of publicly-owned waters rented out by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management for energy production. The revenue generated from these leases goes to the U.S. Treasury Department, and, through public program funding, back into the pockets of taxpayers.
From 2019 to 2021, the average winning bid from offshore oil and gas lease sales was $47 per acre. By contrast, the average winning bid for a wind lease sale was 125 times higher at $5,900 per acre. And that number is likely to get even higher given the American wind industry is still in its relative infancy, said Jenny Rowland-Shea, the Director of Public Lands for the Center for American Progress.
And of course, there are environmental benefits too. Energy produced by offshore wind does not result in the same climate consequences as offshore oil and gas energy production, which releases up to 87 metric tons of carbon dioxide per active acre in the Gulf of Mexico. And according to the report, the social cost of carbon emissions per acre for oil leases is over $16,000 and roughly $2,800 for natural gas leases. Meanwhile, the social cost of carbon emissions from offshore wind power is “essentially nil” per acre, Freeman said. “Clean energy really is clean.”
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