An offshore wind power process started by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) continues to blow forward slowly. When we last reported about this back in late May, BOEMRE said it would “eliminate a redundant step in the noncompetitive leasing process for commercial renewable energy development on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) where developers are trying to launch offshore wind projects.”
Now, according to the federal agency, it is seeking public comment “on a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) that considers potential environmental and socioeconomic effects of issuing renewable energy leases in designated Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) offshore New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.” These areas been identified as regions of the OCS that are best suited for large scale, offshore wind power development.
The draft EA, according to BOEMRE, is available for review. Those wanting to comment on it have until August 11 to do so. Comments will be useful twofold via (1) helping to prepare the final EA and (2) assisting in determining whether an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) needs to be prepared.
Eventually, specific areas within the WEA zones will be identified as areas where BOEMRE will focus its leasing efforts. The agency noted that any leases ultimately issued will not authorize construction or operations; instead, specific proposed projects will be the subject of subsequent environmental review and analysis with additional opportunities for public comment.