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New BOEM Director Will Oversee Nation’s Offshore Wind Program

Mike Schuler
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January 11, 2023

The Department of the Interior has announced that Elizabeth (Liz) Klein has been named Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the agency at the center of the Biden Administration’s offshore wind expansion program.

Klein will succeed Amanda Lefton, who served as the first BOEM Director in the Biden-Harris administration. Lefton has announced her resignation, effective January 19, 2023.

BOEM is responsible for the management of America’s energy and mineral resources on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. Among its top priorities, BOEM is responsible for offshore renewable energy development in federal waters.

With President Biden’s ambitious goals of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030 and 15 gigawatts of floating offshore wind capacity by 2035, BOEM has spent this administration laser-focussed on expanding offshore wind leasing and development while putting offshore oil and gas advancement on the back burner.

“The Interior Department is leading the effort to foster a clean energy future, and Liz will be critical to our efforts to meet the President’s ambitious goals to deploy affordable clean energy to power homes across America and create good-paying jobs in the growing offshore wind industry,” said Chief of Staff Rachael S. Taylor.

“BOEM is at the epicenter of the Department’s work to create good-paying union jobs in the offshore energy sector, support a reliable domestic supply chain, and meet the moment for a clean energy economy. Amanda has been a driving force of this effort, and we are grateful for her vision, commitment, and service to this country,” she added.

Under Director Lefton’s, the? Department of the Interior approved the nation’s first two commercial scale offshore wind projects and evolved its approach to offshore wind to drive towards union-built projects and a domestic-based supply chain. Since the start of the Biden-Harris administration, BOEM has held three offshore wind lease auctions – including a record-breaking sale offshore New York and the first-ever sale offshore the U.S. West Coast in California. In total, BOEM plans to hold seven offshore wind lease auctions—including the three already taken place—by 2025. BOEM has also initiated environmental review of 10 offshore wind projects; and advanced the process to explore additional Wind Energy Areas in the Gulf of Mexico, Oregon, Gulf of Maine and Central Atlantic.

Living up to a Biden campaign pledge to combat climate change, BOEM has held only two offshore oil and gas leases during his Administration; one in the Gulf of Mexico in November 2021, held only under a judge’s order, and the other in Cook Inlet, Alaska as required by the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) which President Biden signed into law in August. The IRA calls for two more oil and gas auctions to be held in the Gulf of Mexico this year.

Incumbent BOEM Director Klein is an attorney with experience in clean energy, climate change, and environmental law and policy. She has been a member of the Biden-Harris administration since January 20, 2021, serving as a special advisor to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland working on water policy and climate change resilience.

The White House previously named Klein to be deputy secretary of the Interior Department under Haaland, but later withdrew her from the running amid opposition from Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, a moderate Republican. She was never officially nominated to the role.

Prior to joining the Biden Administration, Klein was Deputy Director of the non-partisan State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at NYU School of Law, which supports state Attorneys General addressing clean energy, climate, and environmental initiatives of regional and national importance. Klein also worked for the Department of the Interior during the Clinton and Obama administrations, serving as Associate Deputy Secretary as well as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Policy, Management and Budget under Secretaries Ken Salazar and Sally Jewell. She was a key architect of the Obama Administration’s work to create a new offshore wind industry and leasing program.

“ACP applauds Director Lefton on her service and record of accomplishments helping lay the foundation to achieve the ambitious but achievable U.S. goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030,” said American Clean Power Association (ACP) Vice President for Offshore Wind Josh Kaplowitz.

“We also are excited to work with Elizabeth Klein, who brings a wealth of experience to BOEM, having worked in the highest levels of the Department of the Interior under Presidents Obama and Biden,” Kaplowitz added.

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