Last week the development of wind energy offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts moved one step closer with the publication of an environmental assessment (EA) by the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Ocean Management (BOEM) regarding commercial wind lease issuance and site assessment activities on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The purpose of the EA is to determine whether or not issuance of leases and approval of site assessment plans within a designated area offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts would lead to reasonably foreseeable and significant impacts on the environment. The EA is available online here.
BOEM will accept public comments on the EA and then will determine whether or not to issue a finding of No Significant Impact or conduct additional analysis under NEPA. The deadline for public comments is August 2. CLF is reviewing the 379-page EA, with a particular focus on the impact to sensitive marine habitats, fish populations and fishing activities, water quality, and marine mammals – particularly the endangered right whale – and sea turtles. CLF will submit comments. CLF believes that offshore wind deployment is a critical clean energy supply resource which must be deployed expeditiously and in significant quantities, in a manner that protects ocean wildlife and sensitive seafloor habitats.
BOEM is hosting two public information sessions to provide an overview of the EA and the next steps in the leasing process. At these sessions, BOEM will accept comments and address questions, so CLF encourages interested members to attend.
Public Information Sessions:
Monday, July 16, 2012, 7:00 p.m.
University of Rhode Island
Coastal Institute – Hazard’s Room
218 South Ferry Road
Narragansett, Rhode Island 02874
Tuesday, July 17, 2012, 7:00 p.m.
Fairfield Inn & Suites
185 MacArthur Drive
New Bedford, Massachusetts 02740