Interior revokes Trump opinion on offshore wind

Source: BY MATTHEW CHOI, Politico • Posted: Monday, April 12, 2021

The Biden administration withdrew a Trump-era legal opinion on Friday that made it more difficult to permit offshore wind projects in order to prevent interference with commercial fishing. When considering whether to permit an offshore wind farm, the Trump opinion signed by former Solicitor Daniel Jorjani called for a cautious approach “to prevent interference with reasonable uses in a way that errs on the side of less interference rather than more interference.”

In a new replacement opinion, Biden’s principal deputy solicitor (and newly tapped solicitor nominee) Robert Anderson said the Trump interpretation took too narrow an approach to “prevention of interference,” failing to note the other objectives the secretary must consider. It added that the secretary “retains wide discretion to determine the appropriate balance between two or more goals that conflict or are otherwise in tension.”

The Trump legal opinion “improperly constrained the Secretary’s discretion to consider the full range of benefits and impacts that might result from uses of the Outer Continental Shelf,” an Interior spokesperson said in a statement Friday. “The Office has issued a new opinion that highlights the importance of striking a rational balance between multiple, potentially competing factors when making a decision on offshore renewable energy activities.” The new legal opinion comes as the Biden administration set a goal to add 30 gigawatts of offshore wind generation to U.S. coastal waters by 2030