A home base of the oil and gas industry wants in on offshore wind.
The Gulf of Mexico has spent eight decades as one of the nation’s prime petroleum hubs, home to thousands of rigs, platforms and other structures that drill, store and ship fossil fuels. Now the Biden administration is reviewing 30 million acres of Gulf waters near Texas and Louisiana for potential wind turbines — a development that could dovetail with proposals to generate other clean energy sources, such as hydrogen.
Climate change isn’t the only reason to bring wind power to the Gulf, said former Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who unsuccessfully tried to launch the world’s largest offshore wind farm in the area nearly two decades ago — even prematurely proclaiming in 2006 that “the wind rush is on.”
Patterson, who calls himself a “drill, baby, drill” guy, added: “How long will the oil and gas last? I don’t know. Is it 50 years or 500 years? I don’t know. But at some point, it goes away.”
Patterson’s effort awarded two multimillion-dollar wind power leases off the Texas coast, but the projects never materialized after falling natural gas prices undermined their economics. Instead, the wind industry remained onshore to the vast open stretches of west Texas and the state’s Panhandle.
Challenges to potential Gulf wind projects persist, including the region’s frequent hurricanes and billions of migratory birds. The area’s typical wind speeds are also lower than those of the Atlantic Coast, the biggest haven for U.S. offshore wind projects.
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