Regulatory Framework and Guidelines

What’s New?

On April 24, 2024, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) had finalized updated regulations for renewable energy development on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).  

Secretary Haaland also announced a new five-year offshore wind lease schedule, which includes up to 12 potential offshore wind energy lease sales through 2028.

Renewable Energy Modernization Proposed Rule 

On Jan. 12, 2023, the Department of the Interior announced a proposed rule to update regulations for clean energy development on the U.S. for public review and comment. On Mar. 30, 2023, BOEM announced a 60-day comment period extension. Comments BOEM received can be found on by searching for Docket No. BOEM-2023-0005

To submit a comment, go to and search for Docket No. BOEM-2023-0015.

BOEM-BSEE Renewable Energy Split Rule

On Jan. 17, 2023, the Department of the Interior announced that a final rule would publish that transfers regulatory oversight of certain renewable energy activities on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf from BOEM to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). The final notice was published in the Federal Register on Jan. 31, 2023.

Overview of BOEM's Regulatory Framework

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct) authorized BOEM to issue leases, easements and rights of way to allow for renewable energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). EPAct provided a general framework for BOEM to follow when authorizing these renewable energy activities. For example, EPAct requires that BOEM coordinate with relevant Federal agencies and affected state and local governments, obtain fair return for leases and grants issued, and ensure that renewable energy development takes place in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.

In 2009, the Department of the Interior announced the finalization of regulations governing BOEM's OCS Renewable Energy Program. These regulations provide a detailed structure to govern how BOEM manages its Renewable Energy Program, ensure that BOEM meets its statutory obligations, and provide both certainty and flexibility for overseeing the nascent offshore renewable energy industry. The updated regulations can be found here:

BOEM's renewable energy program occurs in four distinct phases: planning, leasing, site assessment, and construction and operations. BOEM engages key stakeholders throughout this process, as early communication with interested and potentially affected parties is critical to managing potential conflicts. BOEM's renewable energy regulations were updated in October 2011 to reflect the Bureau reorganization, and will be updated in the future to incorporate lessons learned and stakeholder feedback.

BOEM prepared a final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) in support of establishing its program for authorizing renewable energy and alternate use activities on the OCS. The final PEIS examines the potential environmental effects of the program on the OCS and identifies policies and best management practices that may be adopted for the program. The Record of Decision for the PEIS can be found by clicking here.

On April 17, 2014, BOEM announced the publication of its Final Rule to extend timing requirements for submitting a Site Assessment Plan and a General Activities Plan pursuant to its renewable energy regulations. Click on the link below to access the Final Rule.

Workplace Safety for Outer Continental Shelf Renewable Energy Facilities

The Department of the Interior (DOI) announced steps to ensure workplace safety on Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) renewable energy facilities in the Federal Register on October 18, 2019. The new policy clarifies that DOI will act as the principal Federal agency for the regulation and enforcement of safety and health requirements for OCS renewable energy facilities.

DOI will continue to collaborate with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the U.S. Coast Guard to share relevant safety and training information and promote safety on the OCS.

For more information and guidance related to the workplace health or safety of employees on renewable energy facilities on the OCS, please visit the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s webpage at

Regulatory Roadmap

This "Regulatory Roadmap" provides guidance on the requirements for acquiring an offshore wind commercial lease on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), pursuant to 30 CFR 585. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is providing this document to clarify the steps and approvals necessary to develop an OCS wind facility.

This document is intended to be used as guidance to developers to outline the requirements of BOEM and other agencies that industry must follow when developing offshore wind projects.  For public guidance outlining the process for overseeing renewable energy projects on the OCS and opportunities for public involvement, please see A Citizen's Guide.

Regulatory Roadmap

National and Regional Guidelines for Renewable Energy Activities

BOEM has developed a number of national and regional guidelines for renewable energy activities on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). These informal documents are intended to provide lessees, operators and developers with additional information or interpretation of a regulation, OCS standard or regional requirement, clarification for implementation of a special lease stipulation or regional requirement, or updated administrative information (e.g., telephone listings, office address).

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. The Federal government has also placed authoritative geospatial information on the Marine Cadastre ( and analysis tools in OceanReports (  BOEM will consider data products available from these data portals in its decision-making, and encourages lessees and applicants to do so also.

Gulf of Mexico Environmental Consultations

Application and Leasing Guidance

Plan Submittals

  • Final Notice of Intent (NOI) Checklist Guidance
  • Acoustic Modeling and Measurement Guidelines
  • Information Requirements for a Renewable Energy Site Assessment Plan (SAP) (revised June 2019). These guidelines clarify and supplement information requirements for SAP submittals. This information is necessary for BOEM to complete analyses under National Environmental Policy Act and other applicable laws and regulations.
    • What's New (June 2019):
      • Clarified requirements for metocean buoys
      • Clarified BOEM SAP review timeline
      • Identified applicability of Best Management Practices to meteorological towers or metocean buoys
      • Added oil spill response requirements for SAP activities
      • Added SAP template for metocean buoys
      • Updated filing addresses
  • Information Requirements for a Construction and Operations Plan (COP) (May 2020). These recently updated guidelines (1) provide data requirements to help BOEM analyze potential environmental and socioeconomic effects and operational integrity of proposed construction, operation, and decommissioning activities; (2) provide recommendations for coordinating with owners and operators of telecommunication cables that traverse a BOEM-issued renewable energy lease area; and (3) provide clarification on the site characterization data that the lessee submits with its initial COP to support BOEM's review of the lessee's initial and subsequent phases of development of the lease area, when the lessee proposes phased commercial development of the lease area.
  • Draft Design Envelope Guidelines (January 2018) - In order to take advantage of the rapid pace of technological development within the offshore wind industry, BOEM has issued draft guidelines for the use of a "Design Envelope" approach in Construction and Operations Plans (COPs) for offshore wind energy facilities in the United States. This would afford developers a degree of flexibility and allow them to make certain project-design decisions—such as which turbines to use—at the more commercially advantageous time later in the project-development process.
  • Providing Information on Fisheries Social and Economic Conditions for Renewable Energy Development on the Atlantic OCS (October 2015). These guidelines provide guidance to lessees in BOEM Atlantic planning areas to help comply with fishery information requirements in renewable energy plans.
  • Survey Guidelines. Before BOEM will approve the siting of a facility, structure, or cable proposed for a renewable energy project on the OCS, an applicant must submit with its Site Assessment Plan, or General Activities Plan, as applicable. For more information, click here.
  • Assessment of Seascape, Landscape, and Visual Impacts of Offshore Wind Energy Developments on the Outer Continental Shelf of the United States (April 2021). This study provides lessees with a recommended methodology for conducting a seascape, landscape, and visual impact assessment (SLVIA) for offshore wind energy developments in US Federal waters on the Outer Continental Shelf. The methodology outlines the elements that offshore wind project developers are recommended to include in the SLVIA when submitting a construction and operation plan to BOEM and includes criteria for determining expected levels of impact of offshore wind development.
  • Preferred Data Submission Schema for Offshore Wind Facilities Geospatial Data (September 2022) - BOEM has developed a geospatial information system (GIS) layer schema and geodatabase for submissions of GIS data for the proposed infrastructure layers. This schema should be followed with every iteration or update of submissions of these layers to BOEM. A Microsoft Excel spreadsheet is provided with overall instructions and specific attribute information. 
    • What's new (September 2022):
      • New attributes for Export Cable Routes and Export Cable Corridor to include “maximum burial depth range for both layers, and “maximum number of cables” within the Export Cable Corridor layer.
      • Due to issues with the first submission, we have expanded the “Phase Number”, “Option Number” and “Configuration Number” fields in all layers that contain those fields to accommodate 10 characters.