Off-shore wind industry coming to Salem

Pat Gozemba, co-chair of SAFE, addresses the crowd gathered to hear the announcement of a public-private partnership to make Salem the next major offshore wind port in Massachusetts.

On Salem’s Blaney Street wharf, state and city officials gathered Thursday morning, September 30, with leaders of Vineyard Wind and Crowley Maritime to announce a public-private partnership aimed at establishing Salem Harbor as the state’s second major offshore wind port, following New Bedford. The agreement is contingent upon Vineyard Wind winning its latest state procurement bid, which would guarantee a secure market for new wind power generation.

In looking at this site, that for so long hosted a polluting coal-and-oil power plant, followed by a gas power plant, there is ironic justice knowing it will play a pivotal role in ushering in a clean power future.

Pat Gozemba, co-chair, SAFE

State and regional climate activists, who have worked tirelessly advocating for using 42 undeveloped acres on Salem Harbor for manufacturing, operations and maintenance, or marshalling ocean-based wind turbines, were thrilled by today’s announcement. In her remarks, Pat Gozemba, co-chair of SAFE, shared that enthusiasm and the hard work that has gotten us to this point:

Thank you elected officials, dignitaries, and climate activists for joining us today. Climate activists who have led the way in saving our planet Earth really deserve our thanks and that includes the many North Shore residents who are part of SAFE.

We are at an inflection point in turning our city, state, and New England region into a force to stem climate change. We especially want to thank Mayor Driscoll, Crowley Maritime, Vineyard Wind, and Footprint for working together to turn our vision for a wind-powered future into a reality right here in Salem.

SAFE is excited to be here to welcome in an era of clean energy with a renewed focus on wind as an economic engine for Salem. In the 19th century, the wind that powered clipper ships made Salem a prominent player on the world stage.

Today, we are counting on wind as a source of clean, renewable energy to power our homes, businesses, and transportation; to create good-paying union jobs; and to strengthen our regional economy as businesses become part of the supply chain for the offshore wind industry. We can do all this, without polluting the planet we love.

For 20 years SAFE, a volunteer grassroots environmental group, has championed onshore and offshore wind as the most viable solution for ending our addiction to fossil fuels that have caused our climate emergency.

In looking at this site, that for so long hosted a polluting coal-and-oil power plant, followed by a gas power plant, there is ironic justice knowing it will play a pivotal role in ushering in a clean power future.
That future must also be characterized by environmental justice. Justice in terms of job opportunities. Justice in terms of the quality of the air we breathe and the quality of the water we drink. Justice in terms of supporting an environment that enhances our health. This is also the vision of Vineyard Wind.

November 10, 2015. Dolores Jordan and Collin Keegan. © 2015 Marilyn Humphries

We have reminders around us of why we have been doing this work and why this day is so important to us. SAFE board member Dolores Jordan, 92 years old, lives one block from this site. Dolores has worked longer and probably harder than any of us to see this day dawn. She endured coal dust blowing in her kitchen windows and polluted air that gave her asthma. But she taught us all to keep on fighting to stop these assaults on our health and well-being.

Then we have Collin Keegan, Cindy’s son, who when he was 8 lectured SAFE at a community meeting on why we should be fighting for OSW to save ourselves and the planet. Collin’s 15 now and earlier this month he told Cindy and me that he’d like to do a program for SAFE about how we must get our elected leaders to pay attention to the climate crisis—to listen to youth whose future we are stealing with our complacency.

Peyton, Salem SAFE’s newest member.

And one final reminder is 6-month-old Peyton Massie who is here today with her mom, SAFE Board member Bonnie Bain. When Cindy and I met Peyton this summer, she was wearing a Green New Deal t-shirt that said, “Fight for My Future.” Peyton, we will fight for your future.

There is so much more work to be done – and today is proof we can get it done. It’s time for more elected leaders to show us forcefully that they see the crisis and the opportunity and will pass legislation to finance a statewide Massachusetts approach to OSW.

Today the North Shore joins with the South Coast to say: “Wind power in Massachusetts is back!” From Salem to New Bedford and across the Commonwealth, we are united in making Massachusetts a leader once again in capturing the wind. We need to do this to solve the climate crisis. For Dolores, for Collin, for Peyton and indeed for ourselves.

For more on this story, check out coverage in the Boston Globe.