U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz (FL-01) on Wednesday applauded the Department of Defense (DoD) for their avowed commitment to protect Florida’s Gulf Coast Military Mission Line (MML) from the Biden administration’s expansion of offshore wind farms. In a letter issued by Congressman Gaetz to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in July 2022, the Congressman expressed that any wind energy development in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico would have a catastrophic impact on our nation’s military readiness. In a response letter to Congressman Gaetz, the DoD confirmed their continued support for Florida’s MML and plans to protect Northwest Florida’s Gulf Coast from any future wind development projects.
CONGRESSMAN GAETZ TO DOD LETTER TEXT:
The Honorable Lloyd J. Austin
Secretary of Defense
U.S. Department of Defense
1000 Defense, Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20301-1000
Dear Secretary Austin:
On July 20, 2022, President Biden directed the Secretary of the Interior to advance wind energy development in the waters of Florida’s Gulf Coast. I am concerned that wind energy development in the Gulf of Mexico, particularly east of the Military Mission Line (MML), will have a negative impact on our military readiness. For decades, it’s been understood that new oil and gas leasing east of the MML is antithetical to our nation’s military readiness. I am writing to encourage you to apply the same rigor in protecting the Eastern Gulf Test and Training Range from obstructive wind energy development as the Department has for new oil and gas leasing.
In May 2018, the Office of the Secretary of Defense submitted a report to the House Committee on Armed Services and House Committee on Natural Resources on “Preserving Military Readiness in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico”. In that report, your Department rightly acknowledged, in no uncertain terms, the importance and uniqueness of the Eastern Gulf Test and Training Range stating, “The eastern Gulf of Mexico is an irreplaceable national asset”. Moreover, your office concluded, “No other area in the world provides the U.S. military with ready access to a highly instrumented, network-connected, surrogate environment for military operations in the Northern Arabian Gulf and Indo-Pacific Theater.”
China is our pacing threat and depriving our military of its only “surrogate environment” of the Indo-Pacific Theater is counterintuitive to our National Defense Strategy. Furthermore, the Air Force is working earnestly on modernizing the range to be the center of hypersonic testing and development, which is critical to closing the capability gap with China and Russia. Oil rigs and windmills, and the people required to build and maintain them, should not be in the same areas where experimental missiles are flying over their heads.
I am interested in understanding your perspective on this matter and any plans you have to protect this national treasure from the deliberate development of wind turbine range foulers. I ask that you provide my office a response on this matter no later than September 1, 2022. I look forward to your response and working with your Department to protect our military readiness.
Member of Congress
DOD RESPONSE LETTER:
The Honorable Matt Gaetz
U.S. House of Representatives
1721 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Representative Gaetz,
I am responding to your July 21, 2022, letter to Secretary Austin regarding the potential for wind development that may being compatible with military operations in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico (EGOMEX). In the 2018 “Preserving Military Readiness in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico” report, the Department of Defense (DoD) concluded that EGOMEX is an irreplaceable national asset for developing and maintaining the readiness of our combat forces and is critical to achieving the objectives in the National Defense Strategy.
Through the Military Aviation and Installation Assurance Siting Clearinghouse (Clearinghouse), the DoD provides early and consistent notifications to the Department of Interior of DoD’s training and readiness concerns in particular areas, including EGOMEX. Throughout its history, the Clearinghouse has been successful in protecting training and readiness from various forms of incompatible development. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has established regional task forces to incorporate concerns of all stakeholders in offshore wind energy siting plans. The Clearinghouse is an active participant in this process to ensure that military testing, training and operations are protected from incompatible energy development. While there are task force efforts underway for the Central and Western GOMEX, there are no current plans to develop wind energy projects in the EGOMEX, and thus there is no task force or other planning effort for wind development in EGOMEX.
I appreciate your efforts to protect the military mission in the EGOMEX from incompatible development.