Interior Secretary Ken Salazar vowed Tuesday to spur offshore wind projects in the Atlantic Ocean by expediting permits and identifying promising areas for wind power.
At a speech in Baltimore, Salazar said he will institute a "smart permitting process" that could result in leases issued within two years, instead of seven years or more.
Salazar said he and other federal officials will work with governors in 11 Atlantic Coast states to identify promising areas for wind development. If no serious problems are identified, leases could be issued late next year or in early 2012.
Salazar said he hopes to pursue offshore wind power along the Atlantic Coast in the same way officials are pushing solar power in the Southwest.
"These are areas with high wind potential and with fewer potential conflicts with competing uses," he said. "If we are wise with our planning, we can help build a robust and environmentally responsible offshore renewable energy program that creates jobs here at home."