Survey Guidelines for Renewable Energy Development

Before BOEM will approve the siting of a facility, structure, or cable proposed for a renewable energy project on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), an applicant must submit with its Site Assessment Plan (SAP), Construction and Operations Plan (COP), or General Activities Plan(GAP), and as applicable, the results of its site characterization surveys and supporting data to BOEM.

BOEM will use the data from these surveys to evaluate the impact of construction, installation, and operation of meteorological towers, buoys, cables, wind turbines, and supporting structures on physical, biological, and socioeconomic resources, as well as the seafloor and sub-seafloor conditions. The information will be used by BOEM, other Federal agencies, and potentially affected states in the preparation of NEPA documents, for consultations and other regulatory requirements.

In addition, the Northeast Ocean Plan and Mid-Atlantic Regional Ocean Action Plan (the Plans) describe a series of collaborative actions and best practices related to the use of data, interjurisdictional coordination, and stakeholder engagement that will inform and guide Federal, State, Tribal, and Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council activities under existing authorities. The Plans promote healthy ocean ecosystems and sustainable ocean uses. Consistent and within existing statutory authorities, BOEM will use the Plans to inform and guide its actions and decisions in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic areas. The companion Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portals (Data Portals) present thousands of publicly available maps that represent components of the marine ecosystem and a wide range of human activities. BOEM will consider these data products available from the Data Portals in its decision-making, and encourages lessees and applicants to do so also.

  • Spatial Data for Site Characterization Surveys (Atlantic OCS). These guidelines provide a general framework for the submission of spatial data from the site characterization surveys. In an effort to minimize the submission of duplicative and redundant data collected during survey activities, BOEM prefers to receive one standardized dataset. (published Feb. 2013)
  • Avian Information (National OCS). These guidelines provide recommendations for avian survey information required under BOEM’s renewable energy regulations outlined within 30 CFR Part 585 Subpart F. The guidelines are updated from time-to-time as new information or methodologies become available. The guidelines are developed in coordination with US Fish and Wildlife Service and through stakeholder engagement. In the current (2017) guidelines, the recommended survey effort did not change from the previous (2013) version. The current guidelines are National whereas the previous were specific to the Atlantic Region. The current guidelines also includes minor technical changes, clarifies when use of existing information may be sufficient, and introduces several new tools to assist in plan development. (revised May 2017).
  • Archaeological and Historic Property Information. The original version of this document (2012) included combined guidance for geophysical and geological, hazard, and archaeological surveys. The subsequent version (2015) divided these guidelines into two documents: guidance specific to archaeology and historic property identification surveys and guidelines related to geophysical, geological, and hazard surveys. The latter are presented in the document Guidelines for Providing Geophysical, Geotechnical, and Geohazard Information Pursuant to 30 CFR Part 585 (provided below) and together, these documents are intended to be used in tandem to inform the survey work an applicant conducts to gather the information required in a plan. The current version of Guidelines for Providing Archaeological and Historic Property Information Pursuant to 30 CFR Part 585 includes revised recommendations for surveys specific to submissions for Site Assessment Plans, as well as the use of a gradiometer to improve identification and reduce false positives (Revised March 2017).
  • Geophysical, Geotechnical, and Geohazard Information. Previous versions of this document included combined guidance for geophysical and geological, hazard, and archaeological surveys. The current version includes guidance specific to geophysical, geotechnical, and geohazard surveys only. Guidelines related to archaeological and historic property surveys are now presented in the document Guidelines for Providing Archaeological and Historic Property Information Pursuant to 30 CFR Part 585 (provided above). These documents are intended to be used in tandem to inform the survey work an applicant conducts to gather the information required in a plan. (revised July 2015)
  • Fisheries Information (National OCS). These guidelines provide recommendations for providing information regarding fisheries in a potential project area. (published Aug. 2013)
  • Benthic Habitat Information (Atlantic OCS). These guidelines provide recommendations for providing information for benthic habitats. (revised Nov. 2013)
  • Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Information (Atlantic OCS). These guidelines provide recommendations for providing marine mammal and sea turtle information to characterize impacts of offshore renewable energy projects on these species. (published July 2013)