BOEM Finalizes Environmental Review of Potential Offshore Wind Lease Activities in Central Atlantic

(Image credit: BOEM)

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has announced the availability of its final Environmental Assessment (EA), which considers possible impacts from issuing leases for potential offshore wind developments off the Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia coasts, including site assessment and site characterization activities such as geophysical, geological, and archaeological surveys. The EA concluded that there would be no significant impacts from lease issuance.

“BOEM is proud to continue to support the clean energy transition in a responsible manner in the Central Atlantic region,” said BOEM Director Elizabeth Klein. “We will continue to work closely with Tribes, our other government partners, ocean users, and the public to ensure that any development in the region is done in a way that avoids, reduces, or mitigates potential impacts to ocean users and the marine environment.”

Since the start of the Biden-Harris administration, the Department of the Interior has approved the nation’s first eight commercial-scale offshore wind energy projects. BOEM has held four offshore wind lease auctions, including sales offshore New York, New Jersey, and the Carolinas; and the first-ever sales offshore the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coasts. BOEM is exploring additional opportunities for offshore wind energy development in the US, including in the Gulf of Maine and elsewhere off the Central Atlantic coast. The Department also continues to take steps to evolve its approach to offshore wind to drive towards union-built projects and a domestic-based supply chain.

On Dec. 11, 2023, the Department of the Interior announced a proposed offshore wind lease sale for two Wind Energy Areas in the Central Atlantic: one offshore the states of Delaware and Maryland, and one offshore the Commonwealth of Virginia.

In January of this year, BOEM published its draft EA that assessed the potential impacts associated with site assessment and characterization activities associated with issuing wind energy leases in the Central Atlantic. The public comment period for the draft EA ended on Feb. 12, 2024.

Next Steps

BOEM plans to hold a sale in the Central Atlantic later this year. A final sale notice (FSN) will be published at least 30 days prior to the sale, detailing the time and date of the lease sale and qualified participants. For any proposed offshore wind projects, BOEM will develop an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to analyze the specific impacts of those projects before making decisions on whether to approve the proposed construction and operations plan. The EISs will be prepared in consultation with Tribes and appropriate government agencies, and informed by input from stakeholders, ocean users, and the public.

For more information regarding offshore wind activities in the Central Atlantic, see BOEM’s Central Atlantic Webpage.

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