BOEM Issues Draft Morro Bay Offshore Wind Area Environmental Assessment

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has released its draft Environmental Assessment (EA) of the Morro Bay Wind Energy Area (WEA) offshore central California, starting a 30-day public review and comment period.

The draft analysed potential environmental impacts and socioeconomic effects from issuing offshore wind energy leases and related site characterization and assessment activities within the Morro Bay WEA.

Site characterization activities include geophysical, geotechnical, archaeological, and biological surveys or the deployment of meteorological buoys needed to develop specific project proposals on those potential leases.

“Public input on our environmental analysis and identified measures to avoid or reduce potential impacts from leasing activities is an important part of our process under the National Environmental Policy Act. BOEM will analyze and consider all comments before we finalize our analysis.” said Doug Boren, BOEM’s Pacific Office Regional Director.

Before approving the construction of any offshore wind energy facility on a potential future lease in the Morro Bay WEA, BOEM will develop an Environmental Impact Statement to analyze the specific environmental consequences of constructing and operating such a facility.

The analysis will be conducted in consultation with Tribes and appropriate federal, state, and local agencies and with participation by ocean users, stakeholders, and the public, BOEM said.

The issuance of the draft EA also initiates a 30-day public comment period that ends on 6 May.

During the public comment period, BOEM will be hosting two virtual meetings on 14 and 19 April.

The area is located approximately 20 miles offshore the central California coastline and contains approximately 240,898 acres (376 square miles).

Designated by BOEM in November 2021, the Morro Bay WEA could deliver up to 3 GW of offshore wind capacity, according to the agency.

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It includes portions of the area initially analyzed in BOEM’s Call for Information and Nominations published in October 2018, and two extensions analyzed in BOEM’s Call for Information and Nominations published in July 2021.

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