Many are hailing the Obama administration's announcement on Earth Day as the "biggest federal step forward for clean energy to date."

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued a set of regulations that will allow renewable wind and wave energy projects to be developed in offshore federal waters. Federal waters had been the subject of a many year inter-agency turf war, and the new regulations clear up both the royalties to be paid to the states (27.5%) and the long-awaited application process for new projects.

In his Earth Day speech, Obama said that by releasing federal waters to renewable energy development, the U.S. could potentially generate 20% of U.S. power needs sustainably while creating 250,000 new permanent jobs in the process.

"It's a win win. It's good for the environment. It's great for the economy."

His optimism for offshore wind is not shared by all, including some environmental groups and notably the Kennedy family who sought to stop the Cape Wind project in Nantucket.

But the success of these massive projects has been demonstrated in countries like Denmark, which now supplies 20% of its power from wind, and with the wind of stimulus money in the sails of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), we may see white windmills popping up out of the ocean in the not so distant future.

Obama's big Earth Day announcement
Offshore wind and wave energy could provide 20% of the U.S. energy demand and create 250,000 jobs.