Biden administration waives taxpayer safeguards for offshore wind project, sparks controversy

Biden administration waives taxpayer safeguards for offshore wind project, sparks controversy

  • November 29, 2023

Staff, Voice of Europe

Internal documents obtained by watchdog group Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT) reveal that the Biden administration granted a waiver of development fees designed to protect taxpayers to an energy firm developing an offshore wind project off the coast of Massachusetts, Fox News reports.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) informed Vineyard Wind, the energy firm in question, about the waiver of a financial assurance for decommissioning costs fee, a fee required by federal statute to be paid by developers prior to construction on their lease. This fee is intended to ensure that federal property is returned to its original state after the lessee departs its lease.

The decision has raised eyebrows, especially considering the administration’s focus on promoting green energy and its efforts to increase bonding requirements on holders of oil and gas leases. PPT Director Michael Chamberlain highlighted the perceived inconsistency, stating, “If you want to talk about bad optics, I don’t see how they could be any worse than right here.”

Former Deputy Interior Secretary Tommy Beadreau, who previously represented Vineyard Wind on legal matters, departed from the law firm Latham & Watkins just a week after BOEM approved Vineyard Wind’s request to waive the development fee. Beadreau, the second-highest-ranking official at the Department of the Interior (DOI), emphasized that he was not involved in the fee waiver request and denied any conflict of interest.

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