Minnesota Law Review

Maneuvering the Headwinds Facing Offshore Wind Development in the Great Lakes: Amending the Coastal Zone Management Act

The first United States offshore wind turbine was launched in 2013 off of the coast of Maine. Offshore wind development in the Great Lakes, however, will differ in key ways from development in non-Great Lakes coastal waters. Planning for development in the Great Lakes now would allow government agencies and private developers to avoid some of the uncertainty and obstacles faced by stakeholders involved in development on the Atlantic Coast, which faced opposition from a wide range of groups for over a decade, significantly increasing costs. With the majority of the U.S. population living near oceans or Great Lakes, offshore wind energy could provide large amounts of carbon-free power to densely populated cities with poor air quality levels.
The lack of regulatory organization for offshore wind development in the Great Lakes presents a significant obstacle to public and private stakeholders interested in development.
The Coastal Zone Management Act, an underutilized resource that could provide Great Lakes states a vehicle through which to plan, coordinate, and/or prohibit offshore wind development, should be amended to require Great Lakes states to identify and plan for regulatory issues and laws applicable to offshore wind development for proper consideration of the regulatory complexities unique to offshore wind development in the Great Lakes.

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