US agency halves offshore Massachusetts wind leasing area (Platts)
Accolades to the Department of Interior–they listen to public comments.
CRE was one of the parties which informed the Department of Interior of the deficiencies in the “Smart from the Start Initiative”:
“WEAs [Wind Energy Areas] established by DOI under the Start Initiative undermine CMSP for the following two reasons:
- Certain stakeholders are cut out of the process, especially fishermen and shipping. This is well reflected in recent a bipartisan letter signed by Senators and Congressmen, urging DOI to provide these stakeholders with a greater opportunity for input.
2. The creation of WEAs involves ocean zoning for particular uses with limited public participation. The WEAs are zoning ocean areas without taking a comprehensive approach to the current and anticipated future uses of the oceans.”
BOEMRE has now reversed its decision on the Massachusett’s Wind Energy Area (WEA). BOEMRE’s process for establishing Wind Energy Areas has lacked transparency and cut key stakeholders out of the process. After recognizing the detrimental impact on Massachusetts fishermen and interference with established shipping lanes, BOEMRE reduces the amount of land dedicated to wind leasing by half. Such reversals can be avoided in the future with increased transparency and more public participation.
Please see the article below for more information on BOEMRE’s decision.
In a setback to the offshore wind industry, the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement eliminated more than half of the area offshore Massachusetts that will be open to wind energy leasing, the bureau announced Monday.
Comments by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, fishing groups and several members of the state’s congressional delegation prompted the decision, BOEM Director Michael Bromwich said in a press release.
“We have heard significant concerns from the people of Massachusetts and we have acted on those concerns,” Bromwich said. “BOEMRE is committed to continuing the public engagement process as we look to identify the potential areas for offshore energy development in the federal waters south of Massachusetts.”
BOEM could not immediately provide the acreage of the area removed from consideration. In comments filed April 18, Patrick requested that about 50% of the proposed wind leasing area be removed, leaving about 1,300 square miles still available.
In comments filed on April 18, Patrick cited concerns by several fishing groups about the impact of wind farms on fishing grounds, shipping lanes and humpback and northern right whales. Massachusetts Democratic Representatives Ed Markey, John Tierney and Barney Frank also supported his request.
Several steps remain before BOEM finalizes the offshore leasing area, including meetings of the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Task Force, the identification of a “Smart from the Start Wind Energy Area” and the development of a call for information and nominations,” BOEM said.
The original tract offshore Massachusetts was about 12 nautical miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket islands, and extended about 31 nautical miles seaward. It was composed of 321 complete OCS lease blocks and 163 partial lease blocks, BOEM said.
In a 24-page “request for interest” published in January, the Interior Department said the waters offshore the Bay State could someday be home to upwards of 4,000 MW of wind generation — enough to power about 1.7 million households.
BOEM said 11 companies have expressed interested in developing the area. The agency received about 250 comments on its offshore wind proposal.
The announcement will not affect the Cape Wind development in Nantucket Sound, which was approved under a separate permitting process.
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