Ocean Currents

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Ocean Currents

News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy

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About Sandra Whitehouse

Dr. Sandra T. Whitehouse serves as a Senior Advisor to Ocean Conservancy where she helped launch the national Ocean Planning Program. She worked on the principles of comprehensive ocean planning in Rhode Island as Environmental Policy Advisor to the RI House of Representatives and Chairman of RI’s Coastal Resource Management Council. She lives in Rhode Island and continues to work closely with stakeholders and regulators.

Celebrating the Nation’s First Offshore Wind Farm: Deepwater Wind

Posted On July 28, 2015 by

Despite the pouring rain, the mood was bright onboard the Rhode Island Fast Ferry en route to view the first steel in the water for a wind farm built by Deepwater Wind.

Within the hour it took to get from the Port of Quonset where Deepwater Wind does the land-based construction work to the site, the rain had stopped and the 150 people on board went out on deck to see the enormous crane and the top of the piling that was recently placed on the seafloor. Everyone there, as well as many others, had contributed to this moment in some way and they were proud to see Rhode Island erecting the first offshore wind farm in the nation.

While the visual stars of the show were the actual pilings and the members of the construction crew who lined the deck of the barge carrying the crane, the unseen but widely acknowledged headliner was Rhode Island’s Ocean Special Area Management Plan (SAMP), without which the project would in all likelihood still be in the permitting phase. Jeff Grybowski, CEO of Deepwater Wind stated succinctly, “the SAMP was critical to our success.” Governor Raimondo spoke about how the project’s success was based on collaborative planning that saved years of permitting time. The foundation of the wind farm is not only cement and steel; it’s also the science-based, stakeholder-driven ocean plan.

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New Industry Technologies Speak to the Need for Smart Ocean Planning

Posted On April 21, 2015 by

Photo: Brian Kusko

Throughout America’s history, the majority of products we import have arrived by ship. For much of the last two centuries these ships have been powered by coal and diesel.  This past Saturday in San Diego, California, TOTE Maritime launched the first cargo ship to use liquid natural gas (LNG) as the primary fuel, which will meaningfully reduce shipping emissions relative to other traditional fuels.  This is just one of many rapid and significant changes we are seeing in the operations of the age-old shipping industry.

Another new technology that has the potential to significantly change the footprint of human uses in the ocean is being developed by offshore wind companies. For example, Principle Power, based in Seattle, Washington, is designing a floating wind turbine foundation that will allow for the siting of offshore wind installations regardless of water depth.  Until now, offshore wind has been constrained to areas closer to shore because of the need for foundations connected to the ocean floor.

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How Rhode Island Wind Can Help Take Us Far, Quickly

Posted On June 13, 2013 by

I had the opportunity to meet with former Vice President Al Gore to discuss the impacts of climate change on Rhode Island. This included the marine impacts, such as warming bay waters, and increased intensity of storms.

The winds on Rhode Island’s waters made them the location of choice for the America’s Cup sailing races for over a century. While harnessing that wind for energy may be only a small piece of the global picture, it can contribute to broader efforts to mitigate climate change.

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“It’s Good to be Here and Get it Started”: Ocean-Use Planning Moves Forward in New England

Posted On November 28, 2012 by

As stakeholders and state, federal and tribal officials from across the Northeast gathered in Portland, Maine, last week for the first meeting of the New England Regional Planning Body (NERPB), I sensed optimism (mixed in with a bit of skepticism) in the room.

The concept of managing our coasts and ocean in a more coordinated way to support a sustainable economy and a healthy ocean was well articulated by the U.S. Ocean Commission concluded under President Bush in 2004 and President Obama’s 2010 Executive Order. Yet, this was the first meeting where a group gathered to fulfill these directives and start creating an ocean atlas – ultimately making recommendations for balancing the multiple uses of New England’s waters.

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