Taxpayer's Savings From Offshore Wind Blow Oil and Gas Out of the Water

Taxpayer's Savings From Offshore Wind Blow Oil and Gas Out of the Water

A new report from the Center for American Progress proves that offshore wind power -- compared with oil and gas -- gives more money back to taxpayers. The study compared lease sales between fossil fuel and offshore wind companies. Because the latter leases publicly-owned waters, the rents go to the government and can be put to public programs that benefit taxpayers directly. From 2019 to 2021, average oil and gas lease sales generated $47 per acre, whereas lease bids for offshore wind were 125 times higher, around $5,900 per acre.

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Why This Matters

Offshore wind isn’t just good for the environment -- it reduces energy costs, improves public health, and helps fund federal agencies. With 40% of Americans breathing polluted air, switching to cleaner energy sources could greatly benefit US residents suffering the effects of burning fossil fuels.

On a global scale, air pollution causes seven million premature deaths annually, and science confirms that oil and gas are direct drivers of heatwaves. Extreme heat is among the most deadly of natural disasters, yet funding to manage this health crisis has proven difficult. Offshore wind could provide a path to getting rid of pollution and bringing down greenhouse gas levels enough to improve people's health across the country.

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Beneficial Winds

The study shows that offshore wind has several other benefits that make it an alternative to fossil fuels. Offshore wind also creates more usable energy. According to the study, natural gas leasing produces just 34 MWh per acre. In comparison, offshore wind produces nearly 41 MWh per acre -- enough to drive an electric car back and forth across the US 42 times.

Leaks and spills from oil wells can go ignored for years, harming nearby ecosystems and communities. And if an oil company goes bankrupt during that time, the cost of cleaning them up falls on the taxpayers.

“Expanding offshore wind energy is good for [taxpayers’] driving, for their wallet, for the air that they breathe,” said Michael Freeman, a conservation policy analyst for the Center for American Project and author of the report, to Grist.

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