With the business incentives laid out in the recently passed Economic Opportunity Act, now is a better time than ever to develop New Jersey's stagnant offshore wind program, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) said at a press conference Thursday morning.
The program has moved sluggishly, if at all, since Gov. Chris Christie signed the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act in 2010. At the time, the act was promoted as a commitment to establishing and developing the industry.
"It allowed us to finally tap into the potential of our offshore wind and become a leader in this emergent technology," Sweeney said. "But three years later, almost nothing has come to pass. That is unacceptable."
Tuesday's press conference was held to announce the release of a report by Environment New Jersey, which claims that with a strong state and federal recommitment to the program, New Jersey could reduce its global warming pollution by 825,000 metric tons in the next five years.
Sweeney said that by stalling on the program, the state is missing out on much needed job creation in an emerging green industry.
"That's the real benefit to me, the jobs," Sweeney said.
Doug O'Malley, director for Environment New Jersey, said that Atlantic City in particular is a "sweet spot for offshore wind" given its location and area wind speed, and should not be a wasted opportunity.
"There's still a chance for the state to become an offshore wind leader and an economic engine," O'Malley said.
In a statement, state Sen. Jim Whelan (D-Northfield) said that developing the program is both a benefit to the business and environmental communities.
"Whether your motivation is the potential economic development if New Jersey becomes a hub for East Coast offshore wind, or the environmental benefits of reducing our dependence on fossil fuel, offshore wind is good for New Jersey," Whelan said.