It was a grey and rainy day, the seas were choppy and I had my seasick medicine at the ready.
“Hope you ladies are in for a bumpy ride” shouted the captain of the small vessel that would be our next mode of transportation. “We might only make it halfway out before we need to turn around, it’s rough out there today!”
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.
The first offshore wind farm in the United States will begin construction (“steel in the water”) in late July 2015. The five turbine, 30-megawatt (MW) Deepwater Wind Block Island offshore wind project is a prime example of the great things that happen when we work together to plan for our ocean. Deepwater Wind CEO Jeff Grybowski and commercial lobster fisherman Bill McElroy talk ocean planning and wind development in the video above.
In an opinion piece published Tuesday, the oil giant BP would have us believe that the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster wasn’t all that bad for the Gulf of Mexico. Yes, they admit the event was a tragedy, and, sadly, both people and wildlife perished. But, they quickly point out that the effects from the disaster were not as dire as predicted, and recovery is already happening or perhaps complete.
But those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it. We know that marine ecosystems affected by oil spills much smaller than the BP oil disaster, such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill, take decades to recover. And with only four and half years behind us since the Deepwater Horizon exploded, we see a steady drumbeat of peer-reviewed articles documenting evidence of harm. The full effects of 210 million gallons of oil on the Gulf cannot be easily dismissed, especially when the injury studies BP conveniently cites are not yet available to the public. A deep dive into the real evidence of the BP oil disaster reveals several holes in BP’s story.
Whether you live on the beach or many miles from it, you can bring the ocean home by taking small steps to reduce your impact around the house. These tips to save energy, reduce waste and cut water usage will help keep the ocean healthy and may even save you money.
Here are four ways to re-energize your home:
Use CFLs. When your old incandescent lightbulbs burn out, replace them with compact fluorescent lamps (or CFLs), which use less power and last longer. These bulbs will also save you money over the long term by reducing your electricity bills. And don’t forget to recycle your old lightbulbs so they don’t end up in a landfill—or in the ocean.
Slow the flow. Showers account for about 17 percent of in-home water usage. Install low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators to keep water pressure up while cutting usage up to 70 percent and saving you money on your water bill.
Use it, then defuse it. Did you know that some electronics continue to sap energy even when they’re not in use? Electronics like computers, printers, DVD players and even your microwave are common culprits—consuming power even in standby mode. You can save energy by unplugging these electronics when you’re done with them or when you’ll be away for an extended period of time. Installing a power strip is a great way to switch off multiple appliances at once.