‘Somewhat terrified’: A key Biden official gets candid on Trump’s agenda

“Donald Trump’s return to the White House could be “catastrophic” for clean energy, particularly the still struggling offshore wind industry, a top Biden administration official says.

Eric Beightel, who is in charge of coordinating infrastructure approvals across federal agencies, told the POLITICO Energy podcast he is “somewhat terrified” that a second Trump presidency would be “catastrophic to our hopes and dreams of our clean energy transition.”

“What we saw during the last Trump administration is that offshore wind essentially stood still,” Beightel said during an interview for the podcast posted Thursday. “And what we’ve had to do since coming in was to pick that up.

“If we had to do that again, coupled with the previous supply chain issues that we’ve already had to reconcile, that could be a death knell to this nascent industry,” said Beightel, executive director of the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council.”

“Trump’s administration took action in line with the ex-president’s views: In 2019, it delayed the Vineyard Wind project — a 62-turbine facility planned for the waters off Martha’s Vineyard — by ordering more environmental reviews that critics said were intended to block its construction. (That project eventually passed muster with Biden’s regulators and recently started sending power to the electric grid.)

The prospect of a second Trump administration is emerging at a time when wind projects are caught in the middle of a struggle between Democrats and Republicans over how to rewrite federal permitting rules for energy infrastructure. Both parties agree on the need to approve energy projects more quickly — but the parties’ priorities remain far apart, as Republicans focus on smoothing the path for pipelines and natural gas export terminals while most Democrats emphasize electricity transmission projects to carry wind, solar and other renewable power.”


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