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Blog Tags: Offshore Wind Energy

Ocean Roundup: Humpback Whale Scars Can Reveal Migration Patterns, Sea Star Die-Offs Linked to Virus, and More

Humpback whale scars can be used to identify migration patterns

A humpback whale off Monterey Bay, California. Scientists have found that humpback whale scars can be used to identify their migration patterns. (Photo: NOAA Photo Library / Flickr Creative Commons)

- In a new study, researchers say that identifying scars on humpback whales from killer whales and cookiecutter sharks is helping scientists better understand their migration patterns. Because cookiecutter sharks are typically found in warmer waters, whereas killer whales are widely distributed, scars from cookiecutters show that humpbacks recently passed through warmer waters. Independent Online


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Don’t Let Congress Crush Offshore Wind’s Growing Momentum

(Photo: Dan Century)

The offshore wind industry rang in 2014 on a high note: both the Cape Wind and Block Island projects will qualify for the critically important Investment Tax Credit (ITC)!  These two projects are in the running to be the first offshore wind farm in the United States. But because Congress allowed the ITC for offshore wind to expire on December 31st, they also might be the only two wind farms built in U.S. waters.


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Offshore Wind Gets a $180 Million Push

© Oceana

Offshore wind development got a huge boost last week when the Department of Energy announced that it would provide $180 million in funding to support four planned offshore wind farms off the U.S. Atlantic coast.

To get the ball rolling, $20 million of this funding is being released in 2012, which is great news for offshore wind development at a time when Congress has been floundering on clean energy.

These funds will be used to support innovative strategies that, in the long-term, will help cut the costs of developing offshore wind. The Department of Energy’s support for offshore wind comes at a time of strong public support for offshore wind in coastal states, such as in New Jersey, where it has a 77% approval rating among shore residents.

The Department of Energy has been helping to streamline the permitting process through a process called “Smart from the Start”, which helps promote responsible development of offshore wind in accordance with environmental factors as well as recreational and commercial use of ocean resources.

Oceana has been highly engaged throughout this process as an environmental stakeholder to make sure offshore wind is developed both efficiently and responsibly in order to gain the clean energy benefits of offshore wind in a way that protects marine wildlife.


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Why We Believe in Offshore Wind

windmill

© Oceana

Oceana is an event partner for the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) Offshore Wind Conference in Baltimore, MD next week, October 11-13.

I’ll be at the conference representing Oceana, and I’ll be speaking on a panel about stakeholder engagement, which will focus on how best to engage and educate key stakeholders in the offshore wind development process. 

Why is Oceana such a strong advocate for offshore wind, anyway? Here are a few big reasons:

  • Because we have seen the damage that drilling for and burning fossil fuels can do to the health of the oceans and marine life, and we must find a better way to satisfy our energy needs. 
  • Because windmills harness a clean and infinite source of energy, while eliminating the risk of deadly oil spills and creating three times as many jobs as the oil industry.
  • Because we believe that the environmentally safe and responsible development of offshore wind is one of the best chances we have as a country to end our addiction to fossil fuels and to finally stop the dangerous practice of oil and gas drilling in our oceans. 
  • Because we believe that, if sited correctly, offshore wind could be the ocean-based part of the solution to climate change and its "evil twin," ocean acidification.
  • Because Oceana is in a unique position as both a stakeholder in the process and an advocate for offshore wind to the stakeholders/decision-makers in Congress, where we engage and educate congressional staff on the benefits of offshore wind. We collaborate with other environmental organizations and the offshore wind industry to advocate for legislative policies that help promote the development of offshore wind.

At last year’s conference, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar signed the first U.S. lease for offshore wind development, and since then, he and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu unveiled a National Offshore Wind Strategy. The plan includes the deployment of 10 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2020 and 54 gigawatts by 2030, and Salazar and Chu announced $50.5 million in funding opportunities for projects that support offshore wind energy deployment.

In other words, it’s an exciting time in the world of offshore wind – and we’re thrilled to be a part of the action.

You can help, too! Tell your senators to replace dirty oil drills with clean windmills.

Nancy Sopko is an Ocean Advocate at Oceana.


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Japan’s Radiation Leak Causes Fishing and Shipping Ban

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Since our first post about the impacts of Japan’s nuclear crisis on the oceans, a lot has happened, but many questions remain and the situation is constantly changing.

As the cooling systems for the injured reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station remain offline, the method used to avoid a fire and full-blown meltdown of the reactors has been the continuous pumping of seawater onto the fuel rods.

Much of the seawater is evaporated, but thousands of tons of radiated water runoff have filled the nuclear plant. Tokyo Electric, who runs the facility, has shown extreme difficulties handling the growing amounts of radiated water.

They began pumping over 10,000 tons of seawater with lower levels of radiation out into the ocean, to make room for more contaminated water. Shortly afterwards a large crack was discovered last Saturday in a pit next to the seawater intake pipes at the No. 2 reactor which began leaking drastically higher levels of radiation directly into the Pacific.

During the leak, Tokyo Electric reported that seawater near the plant contained radioactive iodine-131 that was 5 million times the legal limit, and cesium-137 levels at 1.1 million times the legal limit. 


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