Coastal Zone Renewable Energy Act of 2003

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Coastal Zone Renewable Energy Act of 2003


By: William D. Delahunt and Jim Saxton

Date: March 11, 2003

Source: U.S. Congress. "Coastal Zone Renewable Energy Act of 2003." Washington, D.C.: 2003.

About the Author: Representative William D. Delahunt has been a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 1997. He represents the tenth district of Massachusetts. As of 2006, he is a member of the 109th Congress and proposed the aforementioned bill while serving the 108th Congress in 2003. Delahunt served in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve and as District Attorney of the Norfolk County before serving the Massachusetts House of Representatives. He was elected to The 105th U.S. Congress in 1997, and has been elected to the succeeding U.S. Congress as well. Representative Jim Saxton is Republican member of the House of Representatives in the U.S. Congress. As of 2006, he is serving the 109th U.S. Congress as Congressional Delegate from New Jersey. He is a member of the Armed Service Committee and the Resources Committee. He is also Vice President of the Joint Economic Committee.


Since the latter part of the twentieth century, the use of fossil fuels and nonrenewable resources for energy needs has led to innumerable environmental problems such as pollution and climate change, in the United States and around the world. Further, the United States has a need to import oil from foreign sources, located mostly in the politically unstable parts of the world. Since September 11, 2001, when the World Trade Center was destroyed in an act of terrorism, there has been a growing introspection within the country about the source of its energy needs.

Renewable energy is energy which can be obtained from almost inexhaustible sources such as ocean tides, wind harvesting, geothermal sources, and natural sunlight. The potential of these sources is a vast unlimited source of energy for future generations. Basic technology for this purpose already exists in the United States. Since the beginning of the new millennium, various individuals and companies in the United States have expressed willingness to explore unconventional means of generating energy. It is for these reasons that experts have been advocating the use of renewable energy as a source of electricity. In the past, the U.S. Government has also thought in this direction.

The Coastal Zone Renewable Energy Act of 2003 is a bill which significantly explores this possibility. Originally tabled in the first session of the 108th Congress on March 11, 2003, it proposes to zone coastal areas for the production of energy from renewable resources. The bill also proposes the use of renewable energy sources such as wind, tidal, geo-thermal, hydropower, biomass energy, and such. Unlike fossil fuels, the availability of these resources is virtually bottomless, but the amount of energy that can be obtained from these resources is restricted to their immediate availability.

Sponsored by Democrat Representative William Delahunt and cosponsored by Republic Representative Jim Saxton, the aforementioned bill was referred for various house/subcommittee actions in March 2003. It was forwarded to the U.S. Department of Commerce in March 2003 for executive comment, which as of 2006 was being awaited.

The primary source in an excerpt from this bill. The included sections enumerate the findings, purposes, and objectives of the Act. This bill also proposes amendments to the coastal zone management act of 1972. In a formal context, the bill describes the systems and infrastructure that needs to be set up to tap the renewable energy sources in the marine environment. It describes the various agencies that would need to coordinate to enable the appropriate use of these resources for the energy needs of the country.


                108th CONGRESS

                   1st Session

                   H. R. 1183

To promote the Sensible Development of Renewable Energy in the Waters of the Coastal Zone, and for other purposes.


                   March 11, 2003

Mr. DELAHUNT (for himself and Mr. SAXTON) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Resources

                      A BILL

To promote the Sensible Development of Renewable Energy in the Waters of the Coastal Zone, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE. This Act may be cited as the "Coastal Zone Renewable Energy Promotion Act of 2003."


(a) FINDINGS.—The Congress finds that—

  1. There is an increasing need for the production of electricity from energy facilities that use renewable resources and some of these facilities may be located in waters under the jurisdiction of the United States, including the coastal zone;
  2. Energy companies have already sought to construct energy facilities in State and Federal waters that will use renewable wind energy resources;
  3. Nationwide there are more than 50 proposals to construct and operate "wind farms" for producing electricity in State and Federal waters, and some of these proposals include anchoring more than five hundred wind towers to the ocean seabed within sight of land;
  1. Existing Federal and State law does not provide a process to address the unique issues raised by proposals to locate energy facilities for renewable resources in the marine environment, thereby hindering or jeopardizing sensible development of these renewable energy resources; and
  2. New Federal and State policies are needed to ensure the timely and sensible development of renewable energy resources that are accessible in the marine environment and to provide a mechanism to resolve the significant public trust issues involved in resource allocation and multiple uses in the marine environment.

(b) PURPOSES AND OBJECTIVES.—The purposes and objectives of this Act are to—

  1. promote the sensible development of energy facilities that use renewable energy resources in the marine environment by authorizing the Secretary of Commerce to establish a licensing regime and permitting process to ensure due consideration of the public trust issues involved in resource allocation, multiple use, and impacts on the marine environment;
  2. direct the Secretary of Commerce, acting through the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to use NOAA's expertise about the marine environment and coastal zone to develop new Federal rules and regulations to authorize and govern the sensible development of renewable energy resources in a manner that provides for public safety, safe navigation, protection of the marine environment, prevention of waste, conservation of natural resources, access to important commercial and recreational fishing areas, the protection of correlative rights, protection of national security interests, and payments to the Federal Government for constructing and operating renewable energy facilities in waters under the jurisdiction of the United States seaward of the coastal zone; and
  3. encourage coastal States to amend their coastal zone management plans to include policies and procedures that address—

(A) issues arising from the location in the marine environment of energy facilities that utilize renewable energy sources;

(B) conflicting and competing resource allocation and multiple use issues; and

(C) any adverse impacts from such facilities on the marine environment, commercial and recreational fishing and other activities, the boating community and aesthetic, cultural and historic values.


SEC. 101. COASTAL ZONE ENHANCEMENT OBJECTIVES. Section 309 of the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (16 U.S.C. 1456b) is amended—

(1) in subsection (a) by inserting at the end the following new paragraph—

(8) The procedures and enforceable policies adopted to facilitate the location of renewable energy facilities in the marine environment, including any wind energy facility, shall, among other things—

(A) identify priority locations for renewable energy facilities in the coastal zone;

(B) ensure continued access to commercial and recreational fishing areas, including shellfish beds;

(C) include an environmental review of the potential impacts on—(i) marine mammals and endangered species and their designated critical habitat; (ii) birds; (iii) the marine environment including the seabed; (iv) aesthetic, cultural and historical resource values; and (v) the cumulative impacts of multiple renewable energy facilities;

(D) evaluate navigational and public safety concerns, including but not limited to aviation safety, and ensure continued access to important traditional recreational boating areas;

(E) include obligations for the payment of funds necessary to pay for the decommissioning and removal of renewable energy facilities;

(F) include an assessment of the need for the energy produced by renewable energy facilities; and

(G) take into account national security interests.

(2) in subsection (c) by inserting at the end the following new sentence: "In making funding decisions, the Secretary shall give special consideration to those proposals for management program changes related to the implementation of the objectives identified in paragraph (a)(8) in States with pending renewable energy facility proposals."


SEC. 201. LICENSE FOR THE OPERATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY FACILITIES IN WATERS UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE UNITED STATES SEAWARD OF THE COASTAL ZONE. The Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (16 U.S.C. 1451 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following new section—


(a) LICENSE REQUIREMENT.—No person may construct or operate a renewable energy facility in waters under the jurisdiction of the United States seaward of the coastal zone except in accordance with a license issued pursuant to this section.


(1) Any person who seeks to apply for a license under this section shall notify the Secretary in writing of their intent to apply for a license under this section. A letter of intent shall include, at a minimum, a description of the proposed renewable energy facility, the specific location where the applicant proposes to construct the facility, the proposed timeframe for construction and operation of the facility and the names of the applicant, owners and operators of the proposed facility.

(2) Within 30 days of receipt of a letter of intent, the Secretary shall publish in the Federal Register notice containing the requirements for a license application in the area identified in the notice issued under paragraph (2), and a request for proposals from all persons who seek a license to construct and operate a renewable energy facility in the same location. The Secretary shall determine the time within which proposals must be submitted, but shall not set the submission date less than 60 days from the date notice is published in the Federal Register.

(c) PUBLIC INTEREST EVALUATION.—In evaluating applications received under this section, the Secretary shall consider the amount of energy the proposed project will produce, the economic impact to the region where the facility will be located, the environmental impacts of the proposed facility, the displacement of competing uses of the proposed site and other relevant factors to determine which proposed project best serves the public interest.

(d) LICENSE ISSUANCE PREREQUISITES.—The Secretary may only issue a license under this section after the Secretary determines that—

  1. based on recommendations from the Secretary of Defense, the facility will be consistent with national security needs;
  2. based on recommendations from the Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard, the facility will not create an obstruction to navigation;
  3. the application is consistent with the approved management programs of affected states;
  4. construction or operation of the facility will not unduly restrict access to commercial and recreational fishing areas, including shellfish beds, and recreational boating areas;
  5. the facility will not adversely affect marine mammals, threatened or endangered species, migratory birds, or designated critical habitat;
  6. construction or operation of the facility will not adver-selyaffect aesthetic, cultural, or historical resources recognized or protected under Federal law or the laws of the affected coastal States;
  7. after consultation with the Secretary of Transportation, that the renewable energy facility does not pose a threat to aviation safety;
  8. as a result of the Environmental Impact Statement, the facility can be constructed or operated in a manner that minimizes any adverse impact on the marine environment, including the seabed and any other natural resources;
  9. after consultation with the Secretary of Energy, that the electricity that will be produced by the facility is needed;
  10. the location of the facility is not within the boundaries of a National Marine Sanctuary or Marine Protected Area;
  11. the applicant will pay the fees required in the application; and
  12. the application was determined by the Secretary under subsection (c) to best serve the public interest.

SEC. 202. PRIORITY SITE IDENTIFICATION AND EVALUATION. (a) PRIORITY SITE IDENTIFICATION AND EVALUATION.—To accelerate the sensible development of renewable energy facilities in the marine environment, the Secretary shall immediately begin to identify, list, and evaluate those locations within the marine waters under the jurisdiction of the United States seaward of the coastal zone that have the greatest potential, consistent with this Act and section 309(a)(8) of the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as added by section 101 of this Act, for producing energy from renewable energy facilities. In identifying and listing these priority areas the Secretary shall consult with the Secretary of Energy, the Coast Guard, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, affected coastal states and other public and private institutions and companies with relevant expertise. In evaluating potential sites to be listed, the Secretary shall, to the maximum extent possible, consult with the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory of the Department of Energy.


The excessive use of exhaustible resources such as oil, gas, and coal to meet human energy needs has led to the severe depletion of these resources worldwide. In addition to causing pollution, the use of environmentally finite resources has led to the extinction of several species worldwide, with many more species left endangered.

Experts have been debating the use of other resources for essential elements of life such as electricity. One such resource is renewable energy. In the past, several alternatives have been proposed to facilitate the use of renewable energy in lieu of conventional fossil fuels. There is a worldwide awareness that the overuse of fossil fuels has contributed to many problems—global warming being one such extremely significant and sensitive problem.

Researchers all over the world look for ways to generate energy from renewable resources that pose no harm to the earth's environment. A promising alternative for generating energy is wind power. One viable proposal is the construction of wind farms in coastal areas and in the marine environment that would allow energy to be harvested and distributed through conventional energy infrastructure. On the island of Nantucket in Massachusetts, a wind farm called Cape Wind is fast progressing toward its aim of providing electricity to most of the island. According to Tom Gray, deputy executive director of the American Wind Energy Association, as of 2005 there was a substantial upswing in the use of wind power, mainly because of high oil prices and dependence on foreign energy reserves.

Proponents of renewable energy say that although such research looks promising, and a lot of interest has been shown by various companies to set up renewable energy production facilities, as of 2006, there was still a lack of viable federal and state policy, and with it clear direction in this area.

The reason for this can be attributed to lack of government support. Government officials argue that though the use renewable energy has many advantages, fossil fuel remains the popular source of energy in the United States. They state that the level and scale of technology in the twenty-first century makes it relatively easier and economical to produce and distribute energy obtained from fossil fuels on a large scale. Though suitable renewable energy technology exists the economics of renewable energy makes it exceedingly more expensive than conventional energy.

Experts maintain that apart from weak government policy, market factors and industry self-interests such as the economics of power generation, demand for large scale utilization, and transfer of technology for larger interests affect the renewable energy sector to a great extent. Moreover, the United States was the world leader in renewable energy generation in the 1990s. However, it lost that position to Europe and Japan in subsequent years. This, experts say, can be largely attributed to the domestic inability to balance the long- and short-term interests of power generation and energy utilization.


Web sites

Cape Wind. "More Turning to Wind Power as Alternative." 〈〉 (accessed February 20, 2006).

CATO Institute. "Renewable Energy: Not Cheap, Not Green" 〈〉 (accessed February 20, 2006).

Coastal Guide. "Energy." 〈〉 (accessed February 20, 2006).

Martinot, Eric, Ryan Wiser, and Jan Hamrin. "Renewable Energy Policies and Markets in the United States." 〈〉 (accessed February 20, 2006).

Proceedings of the 14th Biennial Coastal Zone Conference. "Coastal Wind Energy and the United States: An Overview." 〈〉 (accessed February 20, 2006).

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Coastal Zone Renewable Energy Act of 2003

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