Health & Equity

Responsibly developed offshore wind has many benefits, including the potential to improve health outcomes in communities that have long borne the brunt of fossil fuel pollution. With the proper policies in place, it can also benefit these communities by increasing economic inclusion and laying the groundwork for an equitable clean energy economy.

Environmental Health Benefits

Pollution from fossil fuels causes serious damage to the environment and negative impacts on the health of communities, including respiratory issues, water & food insecurity, and health complications due to rising temperatures. This is especially true for low-income communities and communities of color, which have been historically underserved and overburdened by energy pollution and are most vulnerable to the negative effects of the climate crisis. According to this study by Harvard researchers, “renewable energy can have benefits to climate by reducing GHG emissions, and to public health by reducing air pollutant emissions from fossil-fueled power plants and improving air quality.” Renewable energy is critical to our region’s efforts to transition away from fossil fuels in all sectors of the economy – and offshore wind will likely provide a majority of our region’s electricity by 2050. Clean energy is a step forward in creating healthy, thriving communities while enjoying the benefits of electrification.

Equity in Offshore Wind

Economic inclusion is essential for the responsible development of offshore wind. As this industry grows, New England must take steps to ensure that the economic benefits are shared equitably. Choices made by policymakers and developers today will set the course for growth and workforce development of offshore wind for years to come. One way to increase equity in offshore wind is to focus on minority economic participation in the offshore wind solicitation process. States should require comprehensive Diversity & Inclusion Plans from developers, take these into consideration when evaluating project proposals, and ensure accountability so progress is measured and goals are met.

In the latest offshore wind solicitation, Massachusetts responded to calls from advocates to require comprehensive supplier and workforce diversity and inclusion plans, include consideration of these plans in the evaluation process, and encourage plans for compliance and accountability. In order for New England states to build an equitable clean energy future, these types of provisions and requirements must be built into the solicitation and review processes, and codified in law.