BOEM preps environmental assessment for Gulf of Mexico offshore wind leasing

4C Offshore | Tom Russell
By: 12/01/2022 BOEM
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is preparing a draft environmental assessment (EA) to consider the impacts of potential offshore wind leasing in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

The area that will be reviewed in the EA includes almost 30 million acres just west of the Mississippi River to the Texas/Mexican border. BOEM will narrow the area based on stakeholder and ocean user input before advancing any Wind Energy Areas, which are offshore locations that appear most suitable for wind energy development.

The draft EA, which will be completed this summer, will consider potential environmental consequences of site characterization activities (i.e., biological, archeological and geological, as well as geophysical surveys and core samples) and site assessment activities (i.e., installation of meteorological buoys) associated with the possibility of issuing wind energy leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Should a lease sale advance, prior to approving the construction of any offshore wind energy facility in the Gulf of Mexico, BOEM will develop an Environmental Impact Statement to analyse the specific environmental consequences of any proposed project, in consultation with Tribes and appropriate federal, state, and local agencies, and with participation by stakeholders and the public.

The announcement represents the culmination of a collaboration between local, state, federal, and Tribal governments to utilize the best available science and traditional knowledge to minimize conflicts between ocean uses. These stakeholders comprise the Gulf of Mexico Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force, which first met last June and is planning to meet again in early 2022. BOEM will continue to meet with the task force as the process moves forward.

BOEM is seeking comments on considerations to be included in the draft EA. BOEM will use these comments in its scoping process. Comments submitted no later than 11:59 PM on 9th February 2022.