As part of the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of permitting 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) today issued a final environmental assessment (EA) on potential impacts from offshore wind leasing on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf in the Gulf of Mexico, a key milestone towards the potential first-ever offshore wind lease sale in the Gulf. Based on the analysis in the EA, BOEM has issued a finding of no significant impacts to environmental resources.
Today's announcement was made possible by the work of Gulf of Mexico Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force, a collaboration between Tribal, Federal, state, and local government agencies to use the best available science and indigenous knowledge to minimize conflicts between ocean uses. BOEM will continue to meet with the task force as the process moves forward.
“The completion of our environmental review is an important step forward to advance clean energy development in a responsible manner while promoting economic vitality and well-paying jobs in the Gulf of Mexico region,” said BOEM Director Liz Klein. “We will continue to work closely with our task force members, ocean users, and others to ensure that any development in the region is done responsibly and in a way that avoids, reduces, or mitigates potential impacts to ocean users and the marine environment.”
President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is growing the economy from the bottom up and middle out—from rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, to driving over $470 billion in private sector manufacturing and clean energy investments in the United States, to creating good paying jobs and building a clean energy economy that will combat climate change and make our communities more resilient.
On Oct. 31, 2022, BOEM announced two Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) offshore Texas and Louisiana that total about 682,000 acres – a subset of the 30-million-acre Call Area announced in November 2021. The WEAs represent offshore areas that appear to be the most suitable for wind energy development. On Feb. 22, 2023, BOEM announced its proposal for the first offshore wind lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico for areas within the WEAs.
BOEM prepared the EA on the entire 30-million-acre Call Area to allow greater flexibility for possible identification of additional WEAs and to provide NEPA coverage in the event that non-competitive and research leases were proposed in the Call Area. The EA considered potential environmental consequences of site characterization activities (i.e., biological, archeological, geological, and geophysical surveys and core samples) and site assessment activities (i.e., installation of meteorological buoys) associated with the possibility of issuing wind energy leases in the Gulf of Mexico.
For more information on the final EA and FONSI, see: https://www.boem.gov/renewable-energy/state-activities/gulf-mexico-activities.
If BOEM decides to proceed with the sale, the bureau will publish a Final Sale Notice at least 30 days ahead of the sale, which will announce the time and date of the lease sale and the companies qualified to participate in it.
For any proposed offshore wind projects, BOEM will develop Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) to analyze the specific environmental consequences of the projects before deciding whether to approve them. The EISs will be prepared in consultation with Tribes and appropriate government agencies and informed by input provided by key stakeholders, ocean users, and the public.
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The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is responsible for America’s offshore energy and mineral resources. The bureau promotes energy independence, environmental protection and economic development through responsible, science-based management of energy and mineral resources on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf.