Yesterday, on the lawn of the Massachusetts State House, Governor Charlie Baker signed an energy bill that commits the Commonwealth to enough offshore wind power for more than half a million homes.

During the bill-signing ceremony, MA Rep. Tom Golden referenced John F. Kennedy’s declaration in 1960 that it was “time for a new generation of leadership, to cope with new problems and new opportunities.” For, as he said, “there is a new world to be won.” Rep. Golden noted that what starts today is a new generation of energy.

A Big Deal

I was born and raised on the coast of Massachusetts. When I was in middle school, I started hearing about the concept of offshore wind. Bumper stickers, tables at the farmers’ market, lawn signs, and more touted the strong opinions for and against one project proposed in Nantucket Sound. As a young environmentalist, I stuck a Yes Cape Wind pin on my backpack and went on with my middle and then high school life.

Fast forward through college and to the start of my career at the National Wildlife Federation. The more I learned from my colleagues, the harder it was to believe that this massive, clean, local, and inexhaustible energy source could still be sitting untapped. Though there was incredible progress underway to change it – progress that gets hardly the attention it deserves.

Governor Baker addresses a packed lawn before signing An Act to Promote Energy Diversity. Photo by NWF

The National Wildlife Federation and many close partners were fighting for permission to build five commercial-scale turbines in Rhode Island state waters (a project that is now just weeks from completion!). The Obama Administration was years into an incredibly comprehensive process to designate areas of federal water for wind energy development. Environmental, labor, and business leaders were putting pressure on Congress to help incentivize financing for offshore wind projects with an effective Investment Tax Credit. Collaboration to understand the measures needed to protect wildlife throughout development was well underway. Just to name a sampling.

“Responsibly developed offshore wind power is a game-changing climate solution for America, and this bold leadership from Massachusetts is precisely what’s needed to bring it to scale.” – Catherine Bowes, NWF Senior Manager for Climate and Energy

Work Still Ahead

America's first offshore wind turbine, Block Island Wind Farm. (Photo: Deepwater Wind)
America’s first offshore wind turbine installed just last week at the Block Island Wind Farm. Photo by Deepwater Wind

And here we are today. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has decided to replace nuclear and coal-fired power plants with a clean energy solution unlike any other – one that can rise to the scale of a challenge that daunts my generation.

Don’t get me wrong, there is serious work ahead to get these turbines built and operating and to ensure they are the first of many. But the Massachusetts Legislature and the Governor committing to making offshore wind power a pillar of our energy future marks incredible progress. It’s a trail-blazing stride toward an energy future that promotes clean air and clean water, healthy wildlife occupying vibrant habitats, and a workforce busy building, operating, and maintaining a home-grown, sustainable industry. Now we need to make sure this essential vision becomes reality.

Governor Baker signs the bill! (Photo: NWF)
Governor Baker signs the bill! Photo by NWF

May the Massachusetts milestone remind us all that the new world we’re reaching for is possible and that we know how to win. The stakes are too high and the mission too important to be anything but motivated by what we have accomplished together. This is just the beginning.

Join us in calling on Governor Baker for the swift implementation of this landmark bill!