In order to increase transparency and consistency for the offshore wind industry, government partners and other key stakeholders, BOEM has published two sets of proposed guidelines for public comment. The proposed guidelines clarify the requirements that lessees must include in every Construction and Operation Plan (COP) before the agency will begin its formal environmental and technical reviews.
During the 45-day public comment period, BOEM is seeking information from industry and other stakeholders regarding any clarifications or questions on the proposed guidelines:
Guidance on Information Needed for Issuance of a Notice of Intent (NOI) Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for a Construction and Operations Plan (COP) (“NOI Checklist”)
This proposed guidance, known as the “NOI Checklist,” is based on BOEM’s regulations and describes how BOEM will process incomplete COP submissions to: (1) improve the efficiency of reviews; and (2) provide clarity to COP applicants and cooperating agencies participating in BOEM’s environmental reviews. This approach identifies the minimum threshold for a partial COP submission that an applicant is expected to meet before BOEM will initiate the formal environmental and technical review process through publication of a NOI to prepare a NEPA document for the project. Moreover, BOEM will consider conformance with the NOI Checklist when considering acceptance of FAST-41 Initiation notices, where applicable.
Before finalizing this guidance document, BOEM welcomes input from all stakeholders. Go to www.regulations.gov and search for docket no. BOEM-2022-0056. BOEM will accept comments from October 26, 2022, through 11:59 pm ET on December 12, 2022. The final guidance will be posted at https://www.boem.gov/guidance in early 2023.
BOEM Nationwide Recommendations for Impact Pile Driving Sound Exposure Modeling and Sound Field Measurement for Offshore Wind Construction and Operations Plans (“Marine Acoustic Modeling and Measurement Guidelines”)
Alongside the NOI Checklist, BOEM is issuing new recommendations to lessees as they develop the acoustic and exposure models of impact pile-driving, and for sound-field measurements, to be included with their COP.
Because underwater sounds generated from impact pile driving for the construction of offshore energy projects can impact marine species near the project area, an important aspect of BOEM’s environmental impact assessment is to estimate and validate the ensonified area. Specifically, two processes are typically performed: (1) a noise impact assessment is conducted during the pre-construction phase, via modeling and analyses, and (2) ensonified areas are validated during the construction phase via sound field measurements.
These recommendations are not meant to be prescriptive, nor restrain operators to using a specific type of model. Instead, the goal is to ensure that key physical and biological factors are incorporated into the modeling and outputs, and to ensure a uniform presentation of modeling results to aid BOEM with its assessment.
BOEM is also providing recommendations for sound-field measurements for the purpose of sound-field verification after plan approval.
Before finalizing this guidance document, BOEM welcomes input from all stakeholders. Go to www.regulations.gov and search for docket no. BOEM-2022-0057. BOEM will accept comments from October 26, 2022, through 11:59 pm ET on December 12, 2022. The final guidance will be posted on BOEM’s website in early 2023.