The US Department of the Interior is seeking public input on three proposals to advance commercial offshore wind energy development. Amanda Lefton, Director of the Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), said “we are asking for public input on all of these milestones because we want to do what we can to avoid, reduce or mitigate potential impacts to the marine environment and other ocean users when possible.”
BOEM is requesting public input on the proposed lease sale in federal waters in the Carolina Long Bay area offshore the Carolinas of a 127,865-acre area. BOEM will publish a proposed sale notice (PSN) in the Federal Register on November 1, which will kick off a 60-day comment period ending on January 3, 2022.
Also on November 1, BOEM will publish a notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) in the Federal Register to initiate a 30-day public comment period on the Mayflower Wind plan to construct and operate up to 147 wind turbines and up to 5 offshore power substations approximately 30 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, and 23 miles south of Nantucket, Massachusetts. Public comments will help BOEM determine the scope of the important resources and issues, impact-producing factors, reasonable alternatives and potential mitigating measures that should be analyzed in the EIS. At the end of the environmental review process, which is estimated to take about two years, BOEM will decide whether or not to approve Mayflower Wind’s plan.
In its third invitation for public comment, BOEM will look at possible commercial wind energy leasing in a proposed area in the Gulf of Mexico. A 45-day period for public comment and submissions indicating interest in commercial leasing will begin on November 1 and end on December 16. The proposed area consists of almost 30m acres just west of the Mississippi River to the Texas/Mexican border.
BOEM will consider the comments received through this call for information and nominations, and conduct an environmental review to consider the environmental consequences associated with issuing commercial wind energy leases within the area. After completion of the environmental review, BOEM will consider the existing uses of the area, as well as feedback from the Gulf of Mexico Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force and the public.
BOEM will then decide whether to publish a PSN to describe the areas available for potential leasing and the proposed terms and conditions of the leases.