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Humboldt Wind Energy Area

Environmental Assessment Review for Commercial Wind Energy Lease Issuance and Site Activities Offshore Humboldt County, California

On May 5, 2022, BOEM issued a news release announcing the availability of the Humboldt Wind Energy Area Final Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). Background on the development of the EA and associated public meetings can be found on the EA tab.

The following documents are available for public viewing:

 

In addition to the virtual meeting room, BOEM hosted two virtual meeting sessions to share information about BOEM’s environmental review process and to solicit public  input on what should be considered in the Humboldt Wind Energy Area (WEA) Environmental Assessment (EA). Each meeting was recorded and is posted below. All comments and questions received during the meeting will be part of the public record.

Scoping Meetings:

August 24, 2021: 9:00 am - 12:00 pm Pacific Time

August 24, 2021: 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm Pacific Time

Public Comments

Meeting Background and Resources:

Announcements:

  • BOEM News Release: BOEM Advances Offshore Wind Leasing Process in California, Public Input Sought on Offshore Wind Areas off California North and Central Coasts 
  • BOEM Note to Stakeholders: You’re Invited: Virtual Public Meetings to Provide Input on Potential Offshore Wind Energy Activities Offshore Northern California 

Scoping Background:

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is preparing an Environmental Assessment (EA) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for future commercial wind lease issuance on the Pacific Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) off the coast of Humboldt County, California. A 45-day public comment period on the scope of the EA closed on September 13, 2021. The input received during the comment period will be used to inform preparation of the NEPA document.

After collaboration with the State of California in extensive data gathering and initial engagement with ocean users, tribes, local communities, and the general public, BOEM has identified an area of consideration for potential future commercial wind energy leasing in Federal waters off the coast of Humboldt County, California, referred to as the Humboldt Wind Energy Area (WEA).

The boundary of the Humboldt WEA begins at 21 miles (34 km) offshore the city of Eureka in northern California. The area is about 28 miles (45 km) in length from north to south and about 14 miles (23 km) in width from east to west. The entire area is approximately 206 square miles (132,369 acres). The area now identified as the Humboldt Wind Energy Area was initially analyzed in BOEM’s Call for Information and Nominations (Call) published on October 19, 2018.

BOEM intends to prepare the NEPA analysis on the WEA to consider the environmental consequences associated with issuing commercial wind leases, and associated site characterization activities (i.e., biological, archeological, geological, and geophysical surveys and core samples) and site assessment activities (i.e., installation of meteorological buoys) off northern California.

FINAL EA (May 2022)

Humboldt Wind Energy Area Final Environmental Assessment, Appendices, & Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI): Commercial Wind Lease and Grant Issuance and Site Assessment Activities on the Pacific Outer Continental Shelf Humboldt Wind Energy Area, California.


DRAFT EA (January 2022)

Public Comment Period has Closed: Humboldt Wind Energy Area Draft Environmental Assessment and Appendices: Commercial Wind Lease and Grant Issuance and Site Assessment Activities on the Pacific Outer Continental Shelf Humboldt Wind Energy Area. Comments are available at regulations.gov under Docket No. BOEM-2021-0085.

In addition to this virtual meeting room, BOEM hosted two virtual meeting sessions to share information about BOEM’s environmental analysis and to solicit public input on the Humboldt Wind Energy Area (WEA) Draft Environmental Assessment (EA). Each meeting was recorded and is posted below. All comments and questions received during the meeting are part of the public record.

Recorded Public Meetings:

January 25th, 2022 - BOEM Humboldt EA Meeting:

January 26th, 2022 - BOEM Humboldt EA Meeting:

BOEM is the bureau within the Department of the Interior that oversees the environmentally and economically responsible development of our energy and mineral resources on almost 2.5 billion acres of the nation’s Outer Continental Shelf, or OCS. All our activities are underlain by our robust environmental program, which ensures that we develop and use the best available information in our decision making.

We also consider public input to be a crucial component of safe and responsible offshore resource development. We solicit public comments from a host of stakeholders and ocean users, including the fishing community, mariners, and coastal communities, in our environmental reviews and regulatory programs.

Why is BOEM developing an Environmental Assessment (EA)?  

BOEM remains committed to a permitting process that minimizes user conflicts and establishes a strong foundation for wind projects moving forward.  The EA will provide important information regarding site assessment, site characterization, and other ocean users in the Wind Energy Area, in order to assist the decision maker during the leasing process.

BOEM’s renewable energy process includes a phased approach to environmental review.  One NEPA analysis is prepared at the lease sale stage, such as this Humboldt EA.  There is another NEPA analysis done at the Construction and Operations phase, and this evaluation of full project build out is normally through an Environmental Impact Statement.  

Why have virtual meetings during this time?   

To the greatest extent possible, we are working to maintain services to the American people and our stakeholders, consistent with evolving guidance provided by the CDC and state and local health authorities. As such, we are moving forward with our public meetings in a virtual environment in order to provide information to the public in the safest and most efficient way possible. The public meetings, while virtual, are an opportunity for public involvement and an opportunity to provide comments on the DEA.

What is scoping?

Scoping is the phase of environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act where the agency seeks input from interested and affected tribal and governmental entities and the public to help BOEM identify the issues that should be included in the analysis.

What type of input or comments is BOEM seeking?  

In this scoping period for this Humboldt EA, BOEM is seeking input on site assessment and site characterization activities, which includes a variety of scientific surveys to gather data on the environment in the Humboldt Wind Energy Area, as well as other uses of the OCS in the vicinity.

How is scoping incorporated into EA?

Scoping comments assist BOEM in determining issues to be analyzed in the EA and in gathering information to support that analysis. An important aspect of input is proposing alternative ideas that achieve a similar purpose as the proposed action. BOEM considers the information provided and issues  alternatives raised from the comments received to ensure a complete analysis of the impacts of site assessment and site characterization on resources in the Wind Energy Area (WEA).

What is the EA intended to do?

The analysis in this EA covers the potential impacts of lease issuance and the routine activities associated with site assessment and site characterization on those leases.  These activities may include 1) meteorological buoy deployment, operation, and decommissioning; and 2) site characterization activities (e.g., biological, geological, geophysical, geotechnical, and archaeological surveys) in the WEA.

2021 Call for Information and Nominations

On May 25, 2021, the Departments of the Interior and Defense and the state of California announced their agreement to advance areas for wind energy development offshore the northern and central coasts of California, enabling a path forward for the Humboldt Call Area and areas within and adjacent to the Morro Bay Call Area.

On July 29, 2021, BOEM published the Morro Bay East and West Extensions – Call for Information and Nominations in the Federal Register, which initiated a 45-day public comment period. BOEM accepted industry nominations and public comments until September 13, 2021.

The Morro Bay Call Area East Extension and the Morro Bay Call Area West Extension offshore the central California coast consist of approximately 90,025 acres (141 square statute miles). 

2018 Call for Information and Nominations

On October 19, 2018, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) published a Call for Information and Nominations (Call) to obtain nominations from companies interested in commercial wind energy leases within the proposed areas off central and northern California. In addition to nominations, BOEM sought public input on the potential for wind energy development in the Call Areas. This includes site conditions, resources, and multiple uses in close proximity to, or within, the Call Areas that would be relevant to BOEM’s review of any nominations submitted, as well as BOEM’s subsequent decision whether to offer all or part of the Call Areas for commercial wind leasing.

On May 25, 2021, the Departments of the Interior and Defense and the state of California announced their agreement to advance areas for wind energy development offshore the northern and central coasts of California, enabling a path forward for the Humboldt Call Area and areas within and adjacent to the Morro Bay Call Area.

2018 Call Maps

GIS/Shape Files for Mapping 

On August 18, 2016, BOEM published a Request for Interest in California Offshore Wind in response to an unsolicited lease request.

Simulations of Potential Visual Impacts

California Visual Simulations - In response to stakeholder interest regarding visual impacts from potential future renewable energy development within the California Wind Energy Areas, BOEM undertook a project to develop daytime and nighttime photomontages to simulate what turbines might look like if these lease areas were fully developed.

 

Informational Videos


 

 

 

Information and Background