I noted that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced that it had identified an area for
commercial wind energy leasing offshore Massachusetts. This
week, BOEM announced the availability of an Environmental Assessment to support commercial
leases in an adjoining parcel offshore both Massachusetts and Rhode
Island. (Couldn't find a photo with good
resolution. The figure is obviously in the EA, but you can
find a stand-alone map here.)
The scope of the EA is limited. Separate analysis, almost
certainly to require preparation of environmental impact
statements, will be required prior to the construction of any wind
farms. The EA addresses only the potential environmental
impacts from issuance of leases and approval of site assessment
plans, or SAPs, by each lessee. BOEM characterized the
potential consequences from lease issuance and SAP approval as
1) Lease issuance (including reasonably foreseeable consequences
associated with shallow hazards, geological, geotechnical, and
archaeological resource surveys).
2) SAP approval (including reasonably foreseeable consequences
associated with the installation of a meteorological tower(s)
and/or meteorological buoys).
BOEM will take comments for 30 days from the Federal Register
publication. Obviously BOEM cannot prejudge the conclusion,
but the expectation is certainly that BOEM will issue a finding of
no significant impact, or FONSI, meaning that no EIS will be
required. That will pave the way for issuance of leases by the
end of the year.
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