Bipartisan Amendment to NDAA Reverses Moratorium on Wind Farm Leases

July 18, 2022 by Dan McCue
Bipartisan Amendment to NDAA Reverses Moratorium on Wind Farm Leases
(Siemens Gamesa)

WASHINGTON — The House has passed a bipartisan amendment to the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act submitted by Rep. Deborah Ross, D-N.C., that rolls back former President Donald Trump’s 10-year moratorium on offshore energy leases off the Atlantic coast.

For those keeping track of votes on NDAA amendments, the energy lease provision passed, garnering a vote of 277-150.

The amendment was similar to legislation Ross earlier introduced with Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y. Both the amendment and the bill would have restored the government’s power to sell offshore wind farm leases off the coasts of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.

The major difference between the amendment and the Ross-Tonko bill, known as the Restoring Offshore Wind Opportunities Act, is that the amendment does not overturn the moratorium in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, a change that was made at the request of the Department of Defense.


Both Tonko and Rep. David Rouzer, R-N.C., helped in getting the amendment passed.

“North Carolina is perfectly positioned to lead the nation’s offshore wind energy industry,” Ross said in a statement emailed to The Well News. 

“This moratorium imperils a critical new wave of offshore wind energy development and threatens tens of thousands of high-quality jobs in North Carolina and throughout the region. That’s why I’m excited that we are one step closer to jump-starting American clean energy independence,” she said.

“I’ll continue fighting for our state to be part of this multibillion-dollar industry, and I thank Reps. Tonko and Rouzer for working with me to pass this bipartisan amendment,” Ross added.

Trump signed his order prohibiting offshore leasing for energy exploration, development or production off the coast of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina in early September 2020, and extended the moratorium to include coastal North Carolina and Virginia two weeks later.

“Number one since Teddy Roosevelt,” Trump said in Jupiter, Florida, shortly after he announced the initial moratorium. “Who would have thought … Trump is the great environmentalist?”


But most saw the move as political pandering ahead of the November election, especially after he told an audience in Virginia, “If you want to have oil rigs out there, just let me know — we’ll take it off. I can understand that, too.”

Trump’s decision infuriated the American Petroleum Institute, the country’s largest trade association for the oil and natural gas industry.

“This is another move in the wrong direction for American energy security and takes thousands of new jobs and critical revenue for states off the table at a time when the economy is struggling,” said Lem Smith, API’s vice president of upstream policy in a written statement released at the time.

And advocates for the offshore wind energy sector agreed, saying in a more recent letter to House and Senate leaders that Trump’s action had cast “a cloud” over wind’s energy and economic potential by withdrawing “vast swaths of acreage” from future federal renewable energy leasing.

“In essence, much of the south had a vital and reliable renewable energy resource taken away from it, along with the jobs and economic development it would bring,” the letter writers said.

Tonko explained his support for the amendment by noting that the expansion of offshore wind is already creating profound opportunities for New York’s Capital Region and for our entire nation.

“However, Trump’s arbitrary ban on new offshore wind leases in the southeastern Atlantic is a significant roadblock to progress, and I am proud to fight alongside my colleagues to overturn this ban and propel opportunities for wind energy development [going] forward,” Tonko said. 

“I’m thrilled by the passage of this amendment as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, which puts us one step closer to continuing the vital work to generate affordable and clean electricity that supports economic growth, creates high-quality jobs and protects our environment,” he added.


“As the Russian war on Ukraine and freedom underscores, it is critical for America to be energy dominant in oil and natural gas as well as renewables,” Rouzer said. “This amendment will help unleash the full potential of American energy production and improve our nation’s energy security while creating good jobs and bringing new investment to southeastern North Carolina.”

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and @DanMcCue

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