Hero Image
Sea and cloud landscape

Morro Bay Wind Energy Area

Development of an Environmental Assessment

Environmental Assessment (EA) Status Update: BOEM is finalizing the EA and related consultations.

On April 6, 2022, BOEM announced the availability of the Draft Environmental Assessment for the Morro Bay Wind Energy Area (WEA) located approximately 20 miles off San Luis Obispo County, California. The following documents were made available for viewing:

The publication of the Draft EA initiated a 30-day public comment period. In response to stakeholder request, the public comment period will was extended and closed on MONDAY, MAY 16. BOEM is reviewing comments and information received during the comment period and will release a final EA upon completion of its analysis.

During the public comment period, BOEM hosted two virtual public meetings on April 14 and April 19, 2022 to allow the public to learn more about the EA, ask questions, and provide oral testimony. Meeting presentations and recordings are available under the "Draft EA" tab

In addition to this virtual meeting room, BOEM will host two virtual public meetings to share information about BOEM’s environmental review process and to solicit public input on the Morro Bay Wind Energy Area Environmental Assessment (EA). Each meeting will be recorded and posted to this site. All comments and questions received during the meetings are part of the public record.

Virtual Public Meetings:

April 14, 2022, 5:00 – 8:00 PM:

April 19, 2022, 9:00 – Noon:

 

Comments can be submitted in the following ways:

  • Through the federal commenting system web portal, Regulations.gov: Navigate to Regulations.gov and search for Docket No. BOEM-2021-0044. (Click on the blue “Comment” button in the upper left-hand corner of the page.  Enter your information and comment, then click “Submit Comment.”
     
  • In written form, delivered by hand or by traditional mail: Enclose comment in an envelope labeled “Morro Bay Wind Energy Area Environmental Assessment” and addressed to:  Office of the Environment, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, 760 Paseo Camarillo, Camarillo, California 93010.
     
  • During a BOEM virtual scoping meeting to be held within the public comment period. 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 Friday, May 6, 2022. UPDATE: In response to stakeholder request, the comment period is now extended to 11:59 pm ET/8:59 pm PT on MONDAY, MAY 16.

 

Virtual Public Scoping Meetings:

During the comment period, BOEM held two virtual public scoping meetings to share information about BOEM’s environmental review process and to solicit public input on what should be considered in the Morro Bay WEA EA.  

December 1st, 2021 - BOEM Morro Bay EA Scoping Meeting:
Meeting Recording
Meeting Summary
Meeting Presentation

January 5th, 2022 - BOEM Morro Bay EA Scoping Meeting:
Meeting Recording
Meeting Summary
Meeting Presentation

Meeting Background and Resources:

Public Comment

  • Summary
  • Public Comments Received: All comments are available at regulations.gov under Docket No. BOEM-2021-0044.

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 (07/28/2021)

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 San Luis Obispo County, California. A 30-day public comment period to review and comment on the EA closes on Friday, May 6, 2022. The input received during the comment period will be used to inform final preparation of the NEPA document.

The boundary of the Morro Bay Wind Energy Area (WEA), which is located approximately 20 miles offshore the central California coastline and contains approximately 240,898 acres (376 square miles). The area now identified as the Morro Bay Wind Energy Area was initially analyzed in BOEM’s Call for Information and Nominations (Call) published on October 19, 2018.

BOEM preparing 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.

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.

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.

 

Information and Background