Not long ago, the Sun Sentinel published an article discussing how multiple forces — including the steady rise of the oceans — caused up to a foot of seawater to flood multiple areas of South Florida. Last year, Hurricane Sandy brushed against our coast, and in its passing washed out an entire section of State Road A1A.
As the risks of climate change become increasingly more clear, the rise of sea levels will become an even more problematic theme for our communities. For most Floridians, it is impossible not to wonder what will happen to our homes if we experience another hurricane similar to 1992's Hurricane Andrew. Will our communities be ready?
If we continue to travel further down the path of dirty fossil fuels like oil and gas, which drive climate change, we are only ensuring this problem gets worse before it gets better. Luckily, there is something we can do about it.
According to the Department of Energy, the United States has more than 4,000 gigawatts of offshore wind potential off its coasts, which is enough energy to power the United States four times over. In Florida alone, offshore wind could generate 16 percent of the electricity we need and create about 10,000 to 17,000 new jobs. Offshore wind would also help protect us from the brutal blow of another oil spill.
The verdict is clear: We need to invest in offshore wind energy, and we need to do it now.
The Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act, which extends the Investment Tax Credit for offshore wind, is critical to moving us off fossil fuels for good. The bill, S.401 in the U.S. Senate and H.R.924 in the House of Representatives, will keep wind power growing nationwide, help jumpstart the offshore wind industry, and give all of us cleaner air, healthier oceans and a better future for the ocean creatures we love.
Reps. Alcee Hastings, Frederica Wilson and Debbie Wasserman Schultz have led by example by co-sponsoring this bill in the House. It's time for Sen. Bill Nelson to follow their lead and continue his reputation for being Florida's environmental champion in the Senate.
As sea levels continue to rise, it is clear there is no time to waste in the fight to protect our communities from the dangers of climate change. It's time to support clean, renewable energy and support the Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act. We must act today because our shoreline communities cannot wait until tomorrow.
Rebecca Marques is Florida Campaign Organizer for OCEANA. Visit http://www.oceana.org.
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