State and Federal Governments Move to Wind Power Leasing in Gulf of Mexico – Energy and Natural Resources

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In the first six weeks of 2022, state and federal governments have taken action for the development of offshore wind energy off the coast of Louisiana.

On February 1, the Climate Initiatives Task Force submitted Louisiana’s climate action plan to Governor Edwards. The plan offers strategies and actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Louisiana. Developing offshore wind power would help meet the state‘s goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

Action 1.3 of the plan focuses on prioritizing offshore wind strategic planning for outreach, workforce and impact assessments to achieve an offshore wind power generation target of 5 gigawatts by 2035. This action involves collaboration between Louisiana agencies and the federal government, as well as transportation planning agencies, energy regulators, utilities, and the private sector.

In addition to action 1.3, many other strategies and actions are also related to the development of offshore wind energy. For example, Strategy 20 is about maximizing potential federal funding opportunities. Accelerating the development of offshore wind energy is one of the priority areas where Louisiana plans to advocate for increased federal support.

In pursuit of the strategies and actions listed in the plan, Louisiana is working with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to take the necessary steps to arrange a lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico for wind energy development. . A major next step in wind power leasing was announced earlier this year. On January 11, BOEM announced that it was preparing a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) to examine the environmental impacts of activities associated with wind power leasing in the Gulf of Mexico.

BOEM is the sub-agency within the US Department of the Interior that is responsible for managing offshore energy leasing. BOEM will survey approximately 30 million acres of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) region of the Gulf of Mexico, located west of the Mississippi River to the Texas-Mexico border. The draft EA, which BOEM expects to complete this summer, will examine the potential environmental consequences of site characterization and assessment activities associated with wind power leases. Examples of these activities include weather buoys, ship voyages, and geological and biological surveys.

The EA project will analyze physical and chemical resources, including water quality, fish, birds, etc. ; social and economic factors; Impact Drivers (IPI), including pollution and noise; and how IPFs could allocate resources. As BOEM is still in the early stages of its renewable energy process, the draft EA will only consider potential environmental impacts related to activities related to the possibility of issuing leases and will not consider impacts potential of wind energy projects in the Gulf.

Following BOEM’s announcement, it held four sectoral fisheries workshops in the Gulf of Mexico on January 19 and 20. These meetings were held to discuss BOEM’s upcoming plans, the environmental review process, frequently asked questions, and to gather information from stakeholders to help avoid or mitigate impacts to commercial and recreational fishing.

Through the implementation of the Climate Action Plan and the development of the Environmental Assessment Project, we expect to continue to see steps toward the development of offshore wind energy in the Gulf of Mexico throughout the long of 2022.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.

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