America has a largely untapped potential for offshore wind power, according to a report released Wednesday that also calls for a more aggressive approach for wind power development off the Atlantic coast.

Proposals made thus far would generate 6 gigawatts of power, which would be the “equivalent of about five coal-fired power plants and enough to power about 1.5 million average U.S. homes annually,” said the report from the National Wildlife Federation.

However, the potential for use of wind power off North Carolina and other states is much higher. (North Carolina could gain 20,000 jobs, the report says.)

“Based on government analysis, the Atlantic Ocean has significant offshore wind potential, with over 212 gigawatts of wind resources in shallow waters where current technology is best suited,” the report said.

The report calls for a permitting process that’s friendlier to offshore wind power, establishment of priority zones for offshore wind, more research on offshore wind technologies and efforts to promote quality jobs, especially in manufacturing, that would result from that industry.

“More than 980 offshore wind turbines are spinning right now in Europe and not one in the Atlantic,” said Curtis Fisher, Offshore Wind Leader for the National Wildlife Federation’s Northeast Regional Center. “The 6 gigawatts of proposed Atlantic offshore wind projects are a great start, but we need a coordinated and comprehensive effort of government and the market to bring these and other projects over the finish line in a way that values fish and wildlife. This new industry holds great potential to create jobs, cut pollution, and reduce our reliance on dirty fossil fuels.”

The report was co-sponsored by more than 35 organizations. It was released barely a week after U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar promised to spur offshore wind projects in the Atlantic Ocean by expediting permits and identifying promising areas for wind power. He promised a “smart permitting process” that could result in leases issued within two years, instead of seven years or more.

“Not a single offshore wind turbine is spinning off the Atlantic coast of the United States,” the report says.

While Atlantic wind resources are largely untapped, European countries have more than 900 turbines producing enough power for at least 450,000 homes. Even offshore wind-power goals of European countries and China dwarf those of the United States.

Offshore wind offsets the need for fossil fuels such as coal and oil, whose consumption leads to environmental damage, including global warming, and a range of public health risks including thousands of premature deaths, says the report. The development of an offshore wind industry would create thousands of jobs.

The report lists proposed projects, which have moved to advanced steps such as leasing or power contracts, in 13 East Coast states, from Maine to Florida.

Read the full report here.

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