WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) today reintroduced legislation that aims to address the needs of the offshore wind industry and train new and incumbent workers through a new grant program. The legislation first directs the Department of Energy to identify the offshore wind industry’s needs by engaging with stakeholders including labor, institutions of higher education, industry, ports, and state and local governments. Based on this initial industry workforce gap analysis, a grant program would be created to support training new and incumbent workers, provide tuition assistance, and support apprenticeship programs.
The grant program would authorize $25 million a year from fiscal year 2022 through 2026. More importantly, this piece of legislation would create thousands of jobs and help the Department of the Interior, Energy, and Commerce meet its goal of deploying 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030 and create tens of thousands of jobs in American coastal communities.
“Maryland is ripe for offshore wind development, and employers are beginning to take note,” said Senator Cardin. “Wind energy projects off the coast of Ocean City are currently in the planning phase, and a newly announced staging area at the Port of Baltimore, where wind turbines will be assembled and later shipped to sea, also is in the works. Federal support for local workforce readiness is critical to ensure the region benefits from this powerful economic driver.”
“America’s clean energy future is blowing in the offshore wind. And the future is now,” said Senator Markey. “We need to prepare American workers with cutting-edge skills to help us power up our grid with this new source of clean, healthy energy generation. The Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act would not only help workers train for specific jobs, but also build good-paying, life-long, union careers in the homegrown offshore wind industry.”
“Addressing climate change and investing in workers can and should go hand in hand,” said Senator Carper. “As we deploy more offshore wind projects and move towards a clean energy future, we must also invest in creating good-paying job opportunities for Americans of all backgrounds. I am excited to introduce the Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act with Senator Markey and our other Senate colleagues. Our legislation would help ensure that American workers are fully trained and ready to build a cleaner, more resilient, and fairer economy for all.”
“States up and down the East Coast are ready to follow Rhode Island’s lead in getting clean, reliable offshore wind energy on the grid,” said Senator Whitehouse. “With so many offshore wind projects in the queue, now is the time to invest in our workforce so that Rhode Islanders are well-positioned for the specialized jobs that will be needed.”
“Investing in clean energy like offshore wind will not only help us tackle the threats of climate change but will also create tens of thousands of new jobs. This bill will help provide Marylanders and folks across the country with the skills they need to access these good-paying union jobs, and ultimately spur greater economic growth and opportunity in our communities. Simply put, it’s win-win for our environment and our economy, and key to our efforts to build a stronger workforce and generate more shared prosperity,” said Senator Van Hollen.
A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.
At least 25 percent of the grants awarded in any single year would be required to go to registered apprenticeship programs, and the Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act would also prioritize veterans, dislocated workers, partnerships made with labor organizations, and individuals with barriers to employment.
“The offshore wind industry is growing. President Biden and state leaders have made bold commitments on offshore wind deployment, which has the potential to create quality, family-sustaining jobs while producing clean, renewable energy,” said BlueGreen Alliance’s executive director, Jason Walsh. By supporting a wide variety of workforce development strategies, including union training programs, the Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act can ensure that workers have access to the skills training they need to access employment in this emerging industry.”
“The American Clean Power Association is proud to work with our partners in labor and in the U.S. maritime community to support the Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act and help achieve state and federal goals of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030. ACP’s 2021 Clean Energy Labor Supply Report found that deploying 30 GW of offshore wind this decade would create approximately 400,000 job-years during construction,” said Heather Zichal, CEO of the American Clean Power Association. “Offshore wind is the next major source of homegrown American energy, representing a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the maritime industry and coastal and port communities. The Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act will help expedite training the American workforce and enable the delivery of a new renewable energy resource while creating family-sustaining jobs.”
“The American offshore wind energy boom needs a skilled workforce trained and capable of operating in the unique offshore environment,” said Erik Milito, President of the National Ocean Industries Association. “Throughout the U.S there are workers who are skilled, but they will require that specific training and expertise to work offshore supporting the rapidly expanding wind industry. The Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act will help ensure that the generational opportunity offshore wind provides is not limited by a shortage of labor.”