Trump promises a ‘day one’ executive order targeting offshore wind energy

May 12, 2024 10:51 PM • Last updated: May 12, 2024 10:51 PM

Turbines operate at the Block Island Wind Farm, Dec. 7, 2023, off Block Island, RI (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson, File)

Former President Donald Trump speaks to the media with his attorney Todd Blanche before resuming his trial in Manhattan Criminal Court in New York, on Friday, May 10, 2024. (Victor J. Blue/The Washington Post via AP, Pool)

Donald Trump vowed to issue an executive order targeting offshore wind development if he wins a second term as president, issuing his most explicit threat yet to the growing industry.

The presumptive Republican nominee derided offshore wind energy projects as deadly to birds and whales during his oceanside rally Saturday in Wildwood, N.J., and vowed to take action.

“We’re going to make sure this ends on day one,” he said. “I’m going to write it out in an executive order.”

Although Trump has made no secret of his enthusiasm for wind energy, he had taken a largely hands-off attitude during his first term in the White House. The comments in New Jersey suggest he could take a more aggressive stance if given some time.

Although Trump was not specific, a president could issue an executive order ordering a new study of the impact of offshore wind energy and halt permitting of new projects in the meantime. President Joe Biden used a similar approach to declare a moratorium on offshore oil leasing during his first week in the White House.

Developers say offshore wind energy will pay big economic dividends — and potentially $25 billion in annual output — across the U.S. as it boosts demand for specialty steel, new ships and other equipment. On the same day that Trump spoke in New Jersey, a new American-built boat that would serve America’s offshore wind farms was christened in New Orleans.

Trump’s accusations Saturday included that offshore wind farms are “killing the whales” because of ocean floor surveys conducted to plan construction. “Nobody even knows what it is,” he said, “but I think there’s been one whale washed up on shore in 20 years, and where they have these things they come up dead all the time.”

While there has been an increase in deaths of humpback whales – including the endangered North Atlantic right whale – since 2016, US scientists say many of the fatalities can be attributed to boat strikes or entanglements. There is no evidence that offshore wind development is linked to whale deaths, although government scientists have raised concerns about the impacts of increased noise, increased shipping traffic and habitat changes associated with the industry.

Offshore wind advocates say Trump would be better off embracing a new source of American energy.

“The fundamental value proposition of offshore wind energy remains clear: safe, reliable, large-scale renewable energy production, good-paying union jobs and significant public health and economic benefits,” said Paulina O’Connor, executive director of New Jersey Offshore . Wind Alliance. “By capitalizing on this emerging U.S. industry, we remain well-positioned to maximize the benefits of offshore wind energy through U.S.-based jobs, production and investment for decades to come.”