PAULSBORO – Flanked by environmental advocates, Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assembly Deputy Speaker John J. Burzichelli and Assemblywoman Celeste Riley today highlighted the second anniversary of the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act (OWEDA) by calling on Governor Christie to finally take action in creating the technology and jobs the law calls for. The event took place at the Paulsboro Marine Terminal, where the legislation was signed on August 19, 2010.
“Two years ago, we took a great step forward not just in renewable energy, but for jobs and economic growth here in New Jersey,” said Sweeney. “We had a lot of hope on that day…but two years later, almost nothing has come to pass. That is unacceptable. We call on the governor today to finally take action and create the thousands of jobs offshore wind will bring to New Jersey.”
“New Jersey has been a leader and economic powerhouse in terms of renewable energies and we can’t afford to slow down,” said Burzichelli. “It’s not just that we aren’t creating jobs right now, but we are actually losing jobs in our state. It does not have to be that way. We have the capability to create thousands of jobs through offshore wind.”
“This is not something that needs a bill or has to go through the legislative process. It has been done and can be set up and ready to roll now. The potential is there, the jobs are there, the economic development is there. We just need the administration to start moving,” said Riley.
OWEDA offers financial incentives to help lure businesses to participate in developing wind farms off the coast of the Jersey Shore. It also provides tax breaks for the port-based manufacturing and support industry for the offshore turbines, which are currently out built outside the United States. The wind farms, located several miles out, would create thousands of megawatts of clean energy. Not only would this be environmentally sound, but it would in turn create thousands of jobs in New Jersey when the state’s unemployment rate of 9.8% is among the highest in the nation.
The Christie Administration, however, has failed to act since signing the law. The Board of Public Utilities was supposed to have developed an offshore wind incentive program by March of last year. That has yet to happen. In combination with the governor’s raiding of the Clean Energy Fund and his removing New Jersey from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the Christie Administration’s actions have not only shortchanged the environment, but have cost the state jobs.
“Two years after the OWEDA was signed, we have seen no progress and no windmills off our coast,” said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club. “By holding back on the development of off shore wind, Governor Christie will potentially cost New Jersey thousands of jobs that will go to other states. 75,000 wind jobs have been created in the US and New Jersey needs to get its share. What the governor is doing hurts our economy and our environment. You cannot have a ‘Jersey Comeback’ without windmills.”