As part of the “Smart from the Start” initiative for Atlantic offshore wind development, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) 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.
The draft EA also considers potential environmental impacts associated with site assessment activities such as the installation and operation of meteorological towers and buoys on leases that may be issued in these areas.
The “Smart from the Start” initiative includes the identification of areas on the OCS that appear to be suitable for renewable energy development where BOEMRE will focus its leasing efforts. 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.
BOEMRE identified the WEAs offshore the mid-Atlantic states in consultation with other federal agencies and BOEMRE’s state renewable energy task forces. In February, BOEMRE announced these areas in a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an EA for Mid-Atlantic WEAs. BOEMRE requested public input to identify the important environmental issues associated with leasing and site assessment activities within the identified WEAs, along with alternatives to consider in the EA. BOEMRE considered the public comments in drafting the alternatives and assessing potential environmental impacts. Comments on the draft EA will be considered in the preparation of the final EA. The comments will also assist BOEMRE in determining whether an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) needs to be prepared, or whether a Finding of No Significant Impact is warranted in connection with issuing renewable energy leases on the OCS offshore the mid-Atlantic states.
July 11, 2011