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US Senate may be trying to kill Biden's clean energy program

YYou may not expect fireworks to be seen in the parliamentary debate over the regulation of offshore energy workers. However, at a less-watched March meeting of the House Transport Infrastructure Commission, a multinational crew member between Congressman Garrett Graves (R., LA) and Congressman Jake Orkincross (D., MA). A 2022 Coast Guard re-approval bill banning ships with foreign flags from working on the US coast. The front and back ended with a sour sound. "If my friend wants to keep hiring Russians, that's fine," Graves said.

"If my friend in Louisiana wants to thwart the clean energy industry in the United States, that's fine," Ochincross replied.

Chairman Peter DeFasio (D., Ore.) Intervened, expressed support for the amendment, and was finally passed. Although not yet enacted (the bill is likely to be submitted to the Senate Trade Commission next month), wind energy proponents are worried. AmericanCleanPower, a group in the renewable energy industry, saidnew regulations will make the offshore wind industry "dysfunctional" and build 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030. He said President Byden's efforts would be hampered. (Unlike Europe and Asia, the United States currently has few offshore winds, and even Biden's desirelags far behind the ambitions of other countries.)

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The heart of the discussion is to perform huge construction work, such as the construction of huge turbine parts. You will end up with a certain kind of highly specialized vessel needed for laying miles of underwater cables as offshore construction of several US-approved offshore wind projects is actually underway. need to do it. This provision requires that only US vessels carrying US crew members be allowed to engage in offshore energy projects that include the work of these large lifts. Flag of origin of the ship: For example, a ship carrying the Norwegian flag should only be boarded by Norwegians.

There are American boats around its construction that perform many small support tasks, and proponents of the bill have a big problem with foreign boats where low-wage workers take on American jobs. Is called. Of the several vessels designed to carry out special heavy goods hauling operations, most are registered in a country different from the crew's country of origin for financial or regulatory reasons. According to supporters of the new regulation, lower foreign wages will give these vessels an unfair advantage, effectively blocking the US shipbuilding industry from raising funds to deploy ships capable of building offshore wind turbines. increase. "If the law continues to allow foreign entities to enjoy the cost benefits and unequal competition we do not have, we simply cannot compete with them," the industry advised. Aaron Smith, chairman of the Group Offshore Marine Services Association, says about the provisions of the Coast Guard bill.

But that's also why the bill could pose a big problem for offshore wind projects planned above and below the east coast. The market is so small that even blocking foreign ships from coming may not provide sufficient financial grounds to make an American version.

"All wind turbine-equipped vessels that cannot come to the United States due to this regulation eliminate the installation of 1,460 MW of offshore wind per year, which is 4.9 million tons of carbon dioxide. "It will be," says Claire Richer, Federal Affairs Director at AmericanCleanPower. Instead, she is proposing a subsidy to build a US offshore wind turbine, rather than an obligation to prevent the vessel from working here.

Theoretically, foreign vessels can switch between registration and crew to comply with the law, but it can be difficult because highly specialized personnel cannot be easily exchanged. I have. Of some important ships, such as the world's nine ships designed to place the foundations of wind turbines on the seabed, all ships are in the Bahamas where all crew members are allowed to come from somewhere. It is registered in such a country. And the harsh reality is that there is so much offshore wind work to do around the world that ship owners don't have to worry about the hassle and just stick to the construction work in Asia and Europe, the United States. Offshore wind power is just beginning. The industry is expensive and dry. And even though protection trade principles will ultimately help build domestic offshore wind farms, some of the offshore wind industry will have no international competition results inferior to ships producing wind power in Europe and Asia. Is called. In other words, the deployment of offshore wind power will be slowed down. ..

The whole problem shows unpleasant opposition to the green energy transition. The economy needs to be decarbonized as soon as possible to avoid the worst effects of climate change, but the quickest and most efficient way to do so is sometimes politically popular protectionism in favor of free trade. It means quitting tradeism. The balance between efficiency and protected trade principles has long been established, opening doors to foreign markets makes things cheaper, and some domestic industries are suffering. And for decades, the balance of US policy has placed a firm emphasis on globalism. Then, before and after the 2016 election, Donald Trump's campaign repeatedly caused the evils of the North American Free Trade Agreement ("The worst trade agreement could have been signed everywhere."), Putting its position in politics. Made it radioactive.

There are many reasons to prioritize the US green industry. It is argued that protective trade principles may be required to roll the ball. However, there are trade-offs in blocking competition with foreign countries. Usually that means a higher price: more expensive steel and socks. In the case of offshore wind, it could mean further delays in the development of the urgently needed green power while we wait for our own industry to catch up. There aremany jobsaround offshore wind, only some of which involve staffing ships that come for months to drop parts into the water. If the price of these additional American crews means tilting the climate balance even further in the wrong direction, our leaders are careful to see if it's really worth it to our other people. You have to think about it.

Alejandro de la Garza (