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(Reuters) - The Biden administration on Wednesday identified new areas for potential offshore wind development off the coasts of Oregon and several central Atlantic states, its latest step toward bolstering the nascent U.S. industry.
Offshore wind is a key pillar of President Joe Biden's plan to fight climate change by decarbonizing the U.S. power sector by 2035 and the entire economy by 2050.
Wednesday's announcement by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, part of the Department of Interior, is the first step in designating areas that will be auctioned to companies seeking to build offshore wind farms.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management identified two areas, known as call areas, for possible leasing off the coast of Oregon in the Pacific Northwest. The two areas, representing a combined 1.16 million acres, are about 12 nautical miles from the shore in central and southern Oregon.
The agency, which oversees offshore wind development, also identified six areas, or 3.9 million acres, between Delaware and North Carolina. The areas are about 20 nautical miles or more from shore.
To date, most of the progress in offshore wind development in the United States has happened in the Northeast, but the Biden administration aims to hold up to seven lease sales by 2025 in areas including the Gulf of Mexico, California, Oregon, the Carolinas and the Gulf of Maine.
The newly identified areas will be whittled down after BOEM considers input from the public, industry, federal agencies and state and tribal governments.
BOEM said it will accept public comments on the call areas for 60 days ending on June 28.
(Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Leslie Adler)