The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) held its second virtual Gulf of Mexico Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force meeting on February 2, 2022. Established last year, the Task Force is a partnership between federal, state, and local agencies and Tribal governments tasked with coordinating renewable energy planning activities on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) in the Gulf of Mexico. It serves as a forum to discuss stakeholder issues, exchange data and information about ocean use and resources, and facilitate collaboration opportunities.
For more information please see our Taskforce page at: https://www.boem.gov/renewable-energy/state-activities/gulf-mexico-gom-intergovernmental-renewable-energy-task-force
BOEM hosted four, sector-specific Gulf of Mexico Fisheries workshops January 19-20, 2022. For more information, go to https://www.boem.gov/renewable-energy/state-activities/gulf-mexico-fisheries-summit.
On January 11, 2022, BOEM announced it is preparing a draft environmental assessment (EA) to consider potential offshore wind leasing in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The agency is also seeking public input concerning the development of offshore wind in these same areas in the Gulf of Mexico.
The draft EA, which will be completed this summer, will consider potential environmental consequences of site characterization activities (i.e., biological, archeological and geological, as well as 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 Western and Central Gulf of Mexico.
Issuance of an Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) renewable energy lease does not authorize any OCS activities. BOEM's renewable energy leases only grant the exclusive right to submit plans for BOEM's consideration. Once a lease is obtained, a lessee may submit a Site Assessment Plan (SAP) describing how the lessee will conduct resource assessment activities, such as the installation of meteorological towers or buoys, and technology testing during the site assessment phase of the commercial lease. BOEM must approve the SAP before the lessee can install facilities or conduct activities described in the SAP. Following the completion of site assessment and characterization, a lessee may submit a Construction and Operations Plan (COP). The COP describes how the lessee will construct and operate a commercial wind project on a commercial lease. The COP includes a description of all planned facilities as well as a description of proposed construction activities, commercial operations, and conceptual decommissioning plans. BOEM must approve the COP before the lessee can install facilities or conduct commercial activities described in the COP.
Approval of a plan authorizing the construction of an OCS renewable energy project in the Gulf of Mexico would be subject to a detailed environmental analysis.
How to Comment on the draft environmental assessment (EA):
Through the regulations.gov web portal: Navigate to Regulations.gov and search for Docket No. BOEM-2021-0092. Click on the blue “Comment” button in the upper left-hand corner of the page. Enter your information and comment, then click “Submit Comment.”
BOEM does not consider anonymous comments. Please include your name and address as part of your submittal. All comments submitted will be made part of the public record and will be posted publicly without change. Comments must be sent by or postmarked no later than 11:59 PM on Feb. 9th, 2022.
- BOEM invites other federal agencies and Tribes to consider becoming cooperating agencies in the preparation of this EA.
- The Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ) NEPA regulations specify that qualified agencies and governments are those with ‘‘jurisdiction by law or special expertise.’’ Potential cooperating agencies should consider their authority and capacity to assume the responsibilities of a cooperating agency and should be aware that an agency’s role in the environmental analysis neither enlarges nor diminishes the final decision-making authority of any other agency involved in the NEPA process.
- Agencies also should consider the factors for determining cooperating agency status in CEQ’s memorandum entitled ‘‘Cooperating Agencies in Implementing the Procedural Requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act’’ dated January 30, 2002.
- BOEM, as the lead agency, will not provide financial assistance to cooperating agencies. Even if a governmental entity is not a cooperating agency, it will have opportunities to provide information and comments to BOEM during the public input stages of the NEPA process.
The analysis covered in the EA will ONLY be for issuing leases and the site assessment and characterization activities. Examples of these activities include
- Installation of meteorological (met) buoys or towers
- Vessel trips
- Geological and biological surveys
The analysis in the EA will NOT include information such as
- Specific project layouts
- Specific project cable routes
- Visual impacts of a project
SPECIFIC projects will be analyzed
- Later in the process
- After a lease is obtained and project plan submitted
- There will be additional opportunities for engagement and consultation at these later steps
- More information on BOEM’s Renewable Energy Process can be found in “A Citizen’s Guide to BOEM’s Renewable Energy Authorization Process”
The EA will be a programmatic assessment
- The EA may be used for more than one lease auction; however, the analysis will be for a single auction. This is similar to BOEM’s conventional energy National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis.
What will be analyzed in the EA?
- The affected environment in the Gulf of Mexico
- Physical and Chemical Resources
- Air Quality
- Water Quality
- Biological Resources
- Coastal Communities and Habitats
- Benthic Communities and Habitats
- Pelagic Communities and Habitats
- Fish and Invertebrates
- Marine Mammals
- Sea Turtles
- Social and Economic Factors
- Land Use and Coastal Infrastructure
- Commercial Fisheries
- Recreational Fishing
- Subsistence Fishing
- Tourism and Recreational Resources
- Social Factors (including Environmental Justice)
- Economic Factors
- Cultural, Historic, and Archaeological Resources
Impact-Producing Factors (IPF)
- Air emissions and pollution
- Discharges and wastes
- Bottom disturbance
- Coastal land use
- Lighting and visual impacts
- Offshore habitat modification/space use
- Socioeconomic changes and drivers
- Unintentional releases into the environment
- Response activities
- Vessel strikes
- Cause and Effect Analysis
- How could each IPF affect each resource?
- Physical and Chemical Resources
What area will be analyzed in the EA?
- The analysis will cover the entire Call Area
When is the scoping period for the EA?
- Scoping will be open from January 11, 2022 – February 9, 2022
What type of information should I provide during scoping for the EA?
- Identify exclusion areas or areas of sensitivity
- Identify resources to be analyzed in the EA
- Provide data on the affected environment
- Other issues of concern or interest
- More information on NEPA and how to have your voice heard can be found at https://ceq.doe.gov/docs/get-involved/citizens-guide-to-nepa-2021.pdf
|January 19-20,2022||BOEM hosted four, sector-specific Gulf of Mexico Fisheries workshops January 19-20, 2022. Stakeholders shared information and discussed issues as BOEM prepares for development of potential wind energy areas and environmental reviews for offshore wind projects in the Gulf of Mexico. For more information on the meetings, go to https://www.boem.gov/renewable-energy/state-activities/gulf-mexico-fisheries-summit.|
|October 28, 2021||
On October 28, 2021, the Department of the Interior announced that it would publish a Call for Information and Nominations (Call) to further assess commercial interest in wind energy leasing in the Gulf of Mexico. The Call was published in the Federal Register on November 1, 2021, and triggers a 45-day public comment period ending on December 16, 2021.
The Call Area consists of almost 30 million acres just west of the Mississippi River to the Texas/Mexican border.
Before deciding whether and where leases may be issued, BOEM will consider the comments received on the Call, conduct an environmental review as required by the National Environmental Policy Act, and consult with appropriate Tribes, federal and state agencies to consider the environmental consequences associated with issuing commercial wind energy leases within the Call Area. After completion of its environmental review, BOEM will consider the existing uses of the Call Area, as well as feedback from the GOM Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force and the public. BOEM will then decide whether to publish a PSN to describe the areas available for potential leasing and the proposed terms and conditions of the leases. There will be multiple opportunities for public input throughout this process.
|June 11, 2021||
BOEM published Request for Interest (RFI) in the Federal Register on June 11, 2021, to assess interest in potential offshore wind development in the OCS. The RFI focused on the Western and Central Planning Areas of the Gulf of Mexico offshore the states of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama.
|October 21, 2020||
The State of Louisiana sent a request to BOEM for the establishment of an intergovernmental task force. Given that renewable energy development in federal waters could affect natural, socioeconomic, and cultural resources shared in all Gulf states, BOEM recommended the establishment of the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force, a regional task force that includes Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, along with relevant governmental entities (both state and local), in addition to interested
Federal agencies and tribes. This first taskforce was held June 15, 2021 in accordance with this request.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed Executive Order JBE2020-18 to establish the Climate Initiatives Task Force and set greenhouse gas emission reduction goals for the State of Louisiana.
|Topic||Presentation Title | Presenter | Resources|
|Webinar Instructions & Guidance||Eric Poncelet, Facilitator, Kearns & West (K&W)|
|Welcome & Opening Remarks||Tribal Invocation | Amanda Lefton, Director, BOEM ; John Bel Edwards, Governor of Louisiana ; Mike Celata, Regional Director, BOEM Gulf of Mexico Region | Video|
|Task Force Member Introductions||Task Force Member Introductions & Agenda Review | All Task Force Members | Eric Poncelet, Facilitator, K&W | Video|
|Background Information & Task Force Orientation||
Background Information and Task Force Orientation - Clarifying Questions | Video
|Updates – Overview of State Renewable Energy Goals||
State of Alabama | Chris Blankenship | Video
|Panel – Offshore Wind Jurisdictional Authorities: Who is Who and What Do They Do?|
|Panel – Gulf of Mexico Data Information Resources and Ocean Users||
Offshore Wind Jurisdictional Authorities Panel - Q&A | Video
Gulf of Mexico Data Information Resources and Ocean Users Panel - Q&A | Video
|Process Next Steps||Tershara Matthews, Chief, Emerging Programs, BOEM | Video|
|Facilitated Task Force Discussion||All Task Force Members | Eric Poncelet, Facilitator, K&W | Video|
|Overview of Action Items, Closing Remarks||Mike Celata, Regional Director, BOEM Gulf of Mexico Office | Video|
|Public Input Opportunity||Eric Poncelet, Facilitator, K&W | Video|