Last week, the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management (BOEM) held its second of two intergovernmental stakeholder meetings to discuss offshore wind in the Gulf of Mexico. The February 2, 2022, meeting follows BOEM’s receipt of a second round of scoping comments for a proposed environmental assessment (EA) of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) for offshore wind leasing.
The still unreleased EA constitutes another example of BOEM’s effort to satisfy the Biden Administration’s target of deploying 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030. To date, BOEM has generally defined a Call Area for potential leasing spanning much of the Gulf region. While several entities have expressed interest in developing the OCS for offshore wind, and the possibility of using wind resources to spur hydrogen development, it is still unclear what parcels BOEM will open to leasing.
Further, it remains to be seen whether BOEM will structure the alternatives addressed in the EA to account for single or multiple lease sales. It appears that the agency may include an alternative assessing the prospect of multiple lease sales to allow the EA to function as a programmatic EA for future OCS leasing. BOEM expects the draft EA will be released for public comment this summer.
The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) also attended the meeting to present its preliminary analysis of the suitability of the present Call Area for wind development. NOAA’s initial assessment suggested that large swaths of area under review could be unsuitable for development.
Contact Andrew Glenn, Megan Caldwell, Jon Micah Goeller, or another member of Husch Blackwell’s Wind Energy Team with any questions you have as we continue to monitor changes that impact the offshore – and onshore – wind industries, and refer to our prior offshore wind blog posts here and here for additional information on the offshore wind movement.