The Biden administration in the US is understood to have selected Amanda Lefton to lead the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)
Ms Lefton comes to the post having most recently been First Assistant Secretary for Energy and the Environment in New York state and a key advisor to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, a long-time advocate of offshore wind energy.
BOEM, part of the Department of the Interior, is the agency responsible for holding lease auctions for offshore wind and overseeing permitting. Although not yet formally confirmed, her appointment has been welcomed by representatives of the offshore wind industry and is likely to see the agency move quickly to address delays in permitting and lease auctions.
Business Network for Offshore Wind president and chief executive Liz Burdock said, “Great choice. Looking forward to working together. The US needs to go BIG on offshore wind, just like New York.”
In a statement, the Network said, “The Biden administration has made an excellent choice naming Amanda Lefton as the new director of BOEM as the agency works to successfully develop offshore wind energy off the coast of the US.
“From Maine to North Carolina, committed state leaders have been driving vision and action on offshore wind and committing state resources and incentives. Having a seasoned state government and policy leader like Amanda Lefton at BOEM over the next four years provides the offshore wind industry with confidence that the administration will fulfill its commitments to double offshore wind and expand opportunities for renewable energy development.
“We look forward to working closely with Ms Lefton as we seek to advance existing projects and further develop the US supply chain.”
New York Offshore Wind Alliance executive director Joe Martens said, “This appointment is great news for New York and the nation. Ms Lefton will join a team of seasoned clean energy experts and will play a critical role in the responsible development of offshore wind energy off the country’s coastline.
“As a key advisor to Governor Cuomo, Ms Lefton was instrumental in the development and passage of two nation-leading laws: the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) and the Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act. The CLCPA included the largest offshore wind energy commitment in the US, which is critical in meeting the law’s renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction targets. We look forward to working with Ms Lefton and her team at BOEM to help advance offshore wind development in the US.”
Acting president and chief executive of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority Doreen Harris described Ms Lefton as “the perfect person to bring the US offshore wind industry to the next level.”
Prior to working for Governor Cuomo, Ms Lefton was deputy policy director and a policy advisor at The Nature Conservancy. Before that she led the Albany District of the Rochester Regional Joint Board of Workers United and served as a Legislative Associate for the State Assembly and worked for the State Senate. She holds a BA from the University at Albany.
The appointment of Ms Lefton follows hard on the heels of President Biden appointing Gina McCarthy, a former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, to lead his Office of Domestic Climate Policy, and Governor Gina Raimondo, also an advocate of offshore wind energy, as Commerce Secretary.
Offshore wind projects on the east coast of the US have taken longer to get approvals than originally expected, partly because of resource issues at BOEM, and because the pipeline of projects on the east coast of the US seeking approval has grown dramatically in the last two years.
An August 2020 report from Wood McKenzie stated that, if the US accelerates development of offshore wind and opens up new lease areas for development, it stands to benefit from 28 additional GW of clean energy, US$1.7Bn in US Treasury revenue by 2022 and massive investment around the country.