Two Texas senators have expressed concerns regarding wind farms proposed by President Joe Biden’s administration, citing negative impacts on the economy and the electric grid.
In July 2022, President Biden announced plans for two wind farms off the coast of Texas and Louisiana. The first farm was planned to encompass 546,645 acres in federal waters, approximately 24 nautical miles off the coast of Galveston. The second was slated to cover 188,023 acres about 56 nautical miles off the coast of Lake Charles, LA, according to a Department of the Interior (DOI) press release.
Exactly one year later, the administration announced plans for an August 29 auction to lease specific areas of the wind farms, according to a July 2023 press from the DOI.
The wind energy lease sale is meant to advance the goal of the Biden administration to provide 30 gigawatts of offshore energy and have a carbon-free electricity sector by 2035.
The areas being auctioned will provide roughly “3.7 GW and power almost 1.3 million homes with clean, renewable energy,” per the July 2023 press release.
Texas Sen. Drew Springer (R-Muenster) objected to the plan on social media, tweeting, “Biden may want to put them in Federal waters but remember the cables have to come through Texas-controlled waters.”
He added that he wants the Texas General Land Office to deny access and permits for the cables to come through Texas’ water.
Texas State Sen. Mayes Middleton (R-Galveston) agreed, claiming that the wind farms would economically hurt the state and the city of Houston.
“Biden’s wind boondoggle puts nearly $900 Billion of ship channels[‘] economic impact at risk and will destroy grid frequency in our grid. They made a bad plan worse by moving it closer to Galveston Island. That’s why I’m going to re-file the bill to stop it,” he tweeted.
The bill Middleton referenced in his tweet was SB 1303, which was proposed during the 88th Legislative Session but eventually died in the Natural Resources & Economic Development Committee.
If passed, SB 1303 would require a permit signed by Texas Land Commissioner Dawn Buckingham for any “wind power facility on coastal public land.”
Middleton has previously been vocal about his thoughts on the wind farm plans. He wrote a letter to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to express his concerns in 2022, warning that switching from reliable energy sources would “increase the unreliability of the Texas electrical grid at great taxpayer expense.”
“We are also concerned that BOEM is not taking the devastating impact offshore wind has on both recreational and commercial fishing seriously, and that this pattern of disregard will continue in the Gulf of Mexico,” he added.
Still, BOEM Director Amanda Lefton said that the project was thoroughly researched.
“BOEM used the most current scientific data to analyze 30 million acres in the Call Area to find the best spaces for wind energy development. We are invested in working in partnership with states and communities to find areas that avoid or minimize conflicts with other ocean uses and marine life in the Gulf of Mexico,” she said. “We are committed to a transparent, inclusive and data-driven process that ensures all ocean users flourish in the Gulf.”
Meanwhile, Texas Land Commissioner Buckingham agreed with the statements made by Springer, tweeting that she has “serious concerns about this project” and “Texans deserve reliable and dispatchable energy.”
In another tweet, Springer said that lawmakers will meet again in October, and he is hoping to address the issue then.