Buttigieg Nomination Points Way To Greener DOT

Written by Heather Ervin

January 2021

President-elect Joe Biden seems to have hope that Pete Buttigieg, former presidential candidate and former mayor of South Bend, Ind., could help him sell Congress on a massive job-creating investment in infrastructure that would also attempt to lessen the impact of climate change.

With Biden promising to lead an ambitious plan to combat climate change, his selection of Buttigieg as his nominee for Secretary of Transportation makes sense.

“When I think of climate change, I think about jobs, good-paying union jobs,” Biden told a crowd of reporters in December. “Jobs that put Americans to work, making our air cleaner for our kids to breathe, restoring our crumbling roads, bridges and ports, making it faster, cheaper and cleaner to transport American-made goods all across the country and the world.”

Giving the EPA back its teeth in the climate change game, Biden’s pick to lead the country’s Environmental Protection Agency is Michael Regan. He’s spent nearly a decade working in the EPA’s air-quality program under former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. If confirmed, Regan will have his hands full after four years when, in the eyes of many, agency scientists were sidelined in an effort to reduce environmental and public health regulations.

One question we have is how, if at all, will these new appointments accelerate the offshore wind industry, for which maritime has found a workforce by supplying offshore vessels to help complete projects or service platforms and turbines.

In addition to helping the U.S. to cut down on carbon emissions, offshore wind could potentially attract billions of dollars of investment and thousands of jobs, especially off the Atlantic Coast where offshore wind projects are already in the works.

Under the current administration, no commercial offshore wind projects have been able to secure federal permits as delays continue across the industry.

We asked the Offshore Marine Services Association (OMSA) to comment on the incoming administration picks, including Buttigieg.

“OMSA looks forward to working with Mayor Buttigieg if he is confirmed as Transportation Secretary,” says OMSA President Aaron Smith. “We hope that he is fully engaged and vocal in his support for and defense of the U.S. maritime industry and Jones Act. We also look forward to working with him to ensure that the cadets matriculating from maritime academies are prepared for the realities of the maritime industry in the 21st century.”

The questions don’t end there. Now that things are looking a bit greener, will the industry receive any money to modify its fleet or its ports to comply with whatever green initiatives come from the new administration? If so, from where will it come?  

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