Mr. CASTLE. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I am pleased to join my colleague, Mr. Delahunt, in offering this amendment today.
The 2005 energy law required Minerals Management Service, MMS, under the Department of the Interior, to develop regulations for offshore wind development within 270 days. It is now 6 months past the deadline, and it appears we will keep waiting. The delay causes regulatory uncertainty and potential setbacks for pursuing the development of this renewable energy source.
Our amendment to H.R. 3221 would require MMS to report to Congress within 30 days on the status of these regulations. We need to know the reason for the delay and what can be done to move things along so communities wishing to invest in this clean, renewable technology can move forward. This is of critical importance to the State of Delaware, which has not only agreed to produce 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 but has made a strong commitment to offshore wind resources
as a component of its energy portfolio.
Wind power is one of the fastest-growing sources of energy and contributes economically and environmentally to America's energy future. Electricity from wind is inflation proof and is not subject to the price volatility of traditional sources. With growing concern over climate change, wind power offers emission-free energy that will diversify our energy supply domestically, while easing demand for polluting and imported fossil fuels.
For Delaware and many other coastal States, our best wind resource lies not inland but just off our shores. I look forward to learning from and working with the various agencies to make sure our renewable energy resources are developed in a timely and environmentally friendly manner so States like Delaware that have signaled it is time to move forward can do so.
Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. DELAHUNT. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gracious gentleman from Texas for yielding.
I rise to support this amendment.
As the gentleman from Delaware indicated, 2 years ago Congress authorized the development of renewable energy from wind and wave and tidal sources in Federal waters, and the Department of the Interior was instructed to establish a program in a uniform set of standards. This initiative was based on the successful example of European countries that are now developing thousands of megawatts of clean, renewable energy from their coastal waters.
In Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain, efforts are well under way to identify offshore renewable energy sites with clear standards to protect the environment, wildlife and mariners and to provide companies with a set of guidelines to develop these areas.
With respect to offshore wind energy, Germany has already zoned much of the North Sea to tap into 25,000 megawatts of energy in the next 20 years. Most of these projects are in deep water, far offshore, and using technologies that create thousands of jobs.
Here in the United States, our coastal waters have the potential to generate close to 900,000 megawatts of energy, and much of this is also in deep water. That is an amount that is close to today's electric capacity for the entire Nation. We have the technology, the capital, and the skilled labor to develop a significant amount of this energy. We could become the Saudi Arabia of wind. [Page: H9862]
However, what we lack is the Interior Department's program. After 2 years, we don't even have a draft set of guidelines.
There are reports that the Interior Department in this initiative is underfunded, that the studies we have called for have not been done, and that the dedicated staff is overworked. We needed to step in now and do what we can to help this effort succeed.
This amendment will help accomplish that goal. I commend my friend and colleague from Delaware, and I urge its adoption.
Mr. CASTLE. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume, and I yield to the gentleman for questions he may have.
Mr. BARTON of Texas. I just want to ask the two authors a few questions.
Is there anything in this amendment that might have the unintended effect of slowing the process down even further of getting these regulations in place?
Mr. CASTLE. Mr. Chairman, if there is anything in this amendment that I thought would slow down that process further, I would pull the amendment in a minute.
The whole idea of this amendment is to compel them to look at what they are doing, give us a report, and move forward with it. It is in no way intended, directly or indirectly, to slow anything down. It is an effort to get it done. I think we both strongly believe in the wind energy circumstance.
Mr. CASTLE. Reclaiming my time, Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Virginia; and I appreciate his support as well. I very much appreciate the support of the gentleman from Massachusetts, who has been very involved with this.
I encourage support of the amendment.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.