Posted on May 2, 2022
WASHINGTON — The Department of the Interior today announced that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will publish two separate Calls for Information and Nominations for possible leasing in areas that are determined to be suitable off the coast of Oregon and in the Central Atlantic.
BOEM Director Amanda Lefton made the announcement at the International Offshore Wind Partnering Forum, where she outlined the Biden-Harris administration’s momentum to spur a clean energy future and create good-paying, union jobs deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030. Over the past year, the Biden-Harris administration and the Interior Department have launched the American offshore wind industry by approving and celebrating the groundbreaking of the nation’s first two commercial-scale offshore wind projects in federal waters. The Department also held a record-breaking New York Bight auction and announced plans to potentially hold up to seven new offshore lease sales by 2025.
“The Biden-Harris administration is committed to supporting a robust clean energy economy, and the upcoming steps taken toward possible leasing off the coast of Oregon and Central Atlantic provides another opportunity to strengthen the clean energy industry while creating good-paying union jobs,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “We will continue using every tool in our toolbox to tackle the climate crisis, reduce our emissions to reach President Biden’s bold goals, and advance environmental justice.”
“The Calls for Information and Nominations for Oregon and the Central Atlantic provide an important avenue to solicit information as we identify potential areas that may be suitable for future offshore wind energy leasing,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton. “Today’s announcement reflects years of working with ocean users, Tribal governments, and local, state, and federal agencies as we drive toward achieving the ambitious goals of the Biden-Harris administration to fight climate change and create good paying jobs.”
Scheduled to publish in the Federal Register on April 29, each Call will initiate a separate comment period during which the public can submit relevant information on site conditions, marine resources, and ocean uses near or within the Call Areas. Concurrently, wind energy companies can nominate specific areas they would like to see offered for leasing.
These Calls come after robust engagement with stakeholder organizations, ocean users, federal agencies, states, Tribal governments and other parties to identify conflicts and engage early in the process as BOEM seeks to advance offshore wind in areas of least impact. This next step in the process allows BOEM to obtain information from and engage with ocean users and stakeholders as the bureau seeks to identify areas of least conflict for offshore leasing and wind energy development. This information will be used to significantly narrow the area to be considered for offshore wind development leasing as BOEM seeks to identify wind energy areas.
BOEM is seeking information on six distinct areas in the Central Atlantic comprising almost 3.9 million acres. The closest point to the shore of any of the areas is approximately 20 nautical miles off the Central Atlantic coast. Publication of the Call in the Federal Register will initiate a 60-day public comment period ending at 11:59 p.m. ET on June 28. Additional information on the Call, including a map of the areas and directions for commenting, can be found at BOEM’s Central Atlantic webpage.
The Oregon Call, the first action of its type off the Oregon coast, requests information on two areas that together comprise approximately 1,158,400 acres. Both areas – the Coos Bay Call Area and the Brookings Call Area – begin about 12 nautical miles from shore at their closest points, off the coast of central and southern Oregon, respectively. Publication of this Call will initiate a 60-day public comment period, which will end at 11:59 p.m. ET on June 28. For more information on the Call, including a map of the areas and instructions for commenting, see BOEM’s Oregon webpage.
BOEM will consider public comments and commercial nominations in response to the Calls to analyze potential use conflicts before designating specific wind energy areas (WEAs) within the respective Call Areas. BOEM will then conduct environmental reviews of the WEAs in consultation with the appropriate Federal agencies, Tribes, State and local governments, and other key stakeholders. After completing its environmental reviews and consultations, BOEM may propose one or more competitive lease sales for areas within the WEAs. There will be multiple opportunities for public input throughout this process.