US Interior Department Completes Environmental Review for Offshore Wind Project
If approved, Vineyard Wind 1 would be the first commercial-scale offshore wind project in the US.
The US Department of the Interior announced on 8 March that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has completed the environmental analysis of the proposed Vineyard Wind I offshore wind project.
“The United States is poised to become a global clean energy leader,” said Laura Daniel Davis, the principal deputy assistant secretary for land and minerals management. “To realize the full environmental and economic benefits of offshore wind, we must work together to ensure all potential development is advanced with robust stakeholder outreach and scientific integrity.”
Vineyard Wind is proposing what is expected to be the first project developed in their lease area, an 800-megawatt wind energy project offshore Massachusetts. The proposed project would be approximately 12 nautical miles offshore Martha’s Vineyard and 12 nautical miles offshore Nantucket in the northern portion of Vineyard Wind’s lease area. If approved, it would be the first commercial scale offshore wind project in the United States.
“Offshore energy development provides an opportunity for us to work with Tribal nations, communities, and other ocean users to ensure all decisions are transparent and utilize the best available science,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton. “We appreciate everyone’s participation in the process and look forward to continuing to work with stakeholders on the future analysis of offshore wind projects.”
BOEM is expected to publish in the Federal Register a Notice of Availability for the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which analyzes the potential environmental impacts of making a decision on Vineyard Wind’s Construction and Operation Plan.
On 12 June 2020, as a result of comments received during the National Environmental Policy Act process and in coordination with cooperating agencies, the Draft EIS was supplemented with additional analysis. Additional areas of analysis included reasonably foreseeable effects from an expanded cumulative activities scenario for offshore wind development, previously unavailable fishing data, a new transit lane alternative, and changes to the proposed project since publication of the Draft EIS.
Following a 45-day comment period and five virtual public meetings, BOEM incorporated comments received on the Draft EIS and the supplemental analysis into the Final EIS.
BOEM is working with the appropriate parties to finalize the Section 106 process, consistent with the National Historic Preservation Act, and to issue a record of decision whether to approve, disapprove, or approve with modifications the proposed project.
The US Army Corps of Engineers and the National Marine Fisheries Service will sign this joint record of decision for their respective authorization decisions.