The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has completed its environmental review of potential impacts from offshore wind energy leasing activities in the New York Bight and has found no significant impact for the area located in federal waters offshore New York and New Jersey.
The final Environmental Assessment (EA) assesses potential impacts from the issuance of leases within nearly 800,000 acres of wind energy areas (WEAs) in the New York Bight.
The EA considers potential environmental consequences of site characterization activities and site assessment activities that may occur in the WEAs and that may take place after the issuance of up to ten commercial and research wind energy leases. It also considers project easements associated with each potential lease and related right-of-way grants for subsea cable corridors in the New York Bight.
Based on the analysis in the Environmental Assessment, BOEM issued a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) on 16 December.
The federal agency noted that, should a lease sale advance and before approving the construction of any offshore wind energy facility in the New York Bight wind energy areas, it would develop an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to analyse the specific environmental consequences, in consultation with Tribes and appropriate federal, state, and local agencies, and with participation by stakeholders and the public.
Back in March, BOEM announced that it had identified new priority wind energy areas in the New York Bight and said it would initiate an environmental review for potential offshore wind leasing and issue a Proposed Sale Notice (PSN).
The PSN, published in June, included up to eight lease areas in the New York Bight for potential commercial wind energy development with a potential to unlock over 7 GW of offshore wind capacity and to power over 2.6 million homes.
In August, the agency published a draft EA and held two public virtual meetings with stakeholders as part of during a 30-day public comment period, which was extended for additional 14 days, and received approximately 50 comments on the draft EA.
Now, with the final EA in place, BOEM says an important step has been taken in advancing the US goal.
“The completion of this Environmental Assessment is an important step forward in advancing the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of increasing renewable energy development on federal lands and waters”, said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton. “BOEM is focused on ensuring that any development in the New York Bight is done responsibly and in a way that avoids or minimizes impacts to the ocean and other ocean users in the region”.
Should the New York Bight auction take place, it would be the first competitive offshore wind lease sale for the Biden-Harris administration, which set a target of installing 30 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030.