The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced Wednesday it will move forward with a regional environmental review of six lease areas in the New York Bight.
A February 2022 lease auction by BOEM brought in over $4.3 billion – a record amount for any U.S. offshore renewable or conventional energy lease sale. BOEM officials say this will be the first time the agency has conducted a regional analysis of multiple lease areas for offshore renewable energy.
The latest lease areas are in addition to the Ocean Wind and Atlantic Shores projects already in advanced planning closer to shore off New Jersey.
Stakeholder groups, especially fishing and environmental advocates, have been pressing the agency to take a larger focus on the potential for regional impacts, with projects now in various stages along the East Coast from New England to the Carolinas.
Additional environmental analyses specific to each proposed wind energy project will build off this programmatic review once BOEM receives individual Construction and Operations Plans (COPs) from the leaseholders, BOEM said.
“This new regional approach is an evolution of our process to help ensure timely decisions that advance offshore wind while protecting the ocean environment and marine life," BOEM Director Amanda Lefton, said in a statement. "In addition, this approach ensures both a comprehensive view of the New York Bight area and improved process efficiencies for future project reviews.”
BOEM will publish a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) in the Federal Register on July 15, 2022, which will initiate a 30-day public comment scoping period. Comments gathered during this time will help BOEM identify what it should consider as part of the PEIS.
The PEIS will analyze potential impacts from wind energy development activities in the New York Bight region, as well as measures that can be taken to avoid, minimize, mitigate, and monitor such potential impacts.
During the public comment period, BOEM will hold three virtual public meetings:
• Thursday, July 28, 2022 – 5 p.m. ET
• Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022 – 5 p.m. ET
• Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022 – 1 p.m. ET
Information on BOEM’s regional environmental review of the New York Bight, including a map of the six lease areas, how to register for the virtual meetings, and how to provide comments can be found on BOEM’s website at https://www.boem.gov/renewable-energy/state-activities/new-york-bight.