New York Commercial Wind Energy Lease Sale and Revised Environmental Assessment
Earlier today, Department of the Interior announced the publication of the Final Sale Notice (FSN) for a lease area offshore New York and released a revised Environmental Assessment (EA) for site assessment and site characterization activities in the area. BOEM very much appreciates the input received from fishing community and other stakeholders on the EA and FSN.
After reviewing comments received on the EA, including comments from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), BOEM decided to remove five aliquots (about 1,780 acres) from the lease area due to environmental concerns over sensitive habitat on Cholera Bank. As a result of this removal, the revised lease area is approximately 2% smaller than the lease area considered in the June 2016 EA and Proposed Sale Notice.
As noted in the revised EA, the reduction of the lease area for habitat concerns has the effect of reducing the estimated average annual overlap with the squid fishery by 8% and all fisheries by 7% based upon NMFS's fisheries revenue data from 2007-2012. BOEM also added information in the EA regarding fishing and fisheries resources that overlap with the lease area, and incorporated data from the Northeast Ocean Data Portal and the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal where appropriate.
As outlined in the FSN, BOEM will require any future lessee to develop a publicly available Fisheries Communications Plan that designates a Fisheries Liaison to serve as the lessee's primary point of contact with commercial fishing stakeholders.
The auction is scheduled for December 15, 2016. The provisional auction winner will have a preliminary lease term of 12 months during which the lessee must conduct any necessary site characterization work in support of a site assessment plan (SAP) and submit a SAP to BOEM. An SAP describes the installations that a lessee proposes to measure wind, ocean, and meteorological conditions. The Fisheries Communication Plan must be made publicly available prior to the lessee engaging in any activities on the lease area.
After the SAP is approved, the lessee will have up to 4 and 1/2 years in which to submit a construction and operations plan (COP), which is a detailed plan for the construction and operation of a wind energy project on the lease. It is during this time that the lessee will make important design decisions for inclusion in the COP. The Fisheries Communication Plan will help facilitate communication between the lessee and the fishing industry during the development of a COP.
Once a COP is submitted, BOEM will conduct a project-specific environmental review, in the form of an Environmental Impact Statement. The COP environmental review will consider full impacts of construction and operations of an offshore wind facility on the environment and other ocean uses. BOEM will provide opportunities for formal public comment prior to and during the development of this document.
For more information regarding this announcement and other lease activities visit our website at: http://www.boem.gov/fishing/. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to Brian Hooker, a BOEM marine biologist, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can reach out to me.
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