The Biden administration moved closer to green-lighting offshore wind energy lease sales of up to 682,000 acres in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has published a final environmental assessment that it described as a “major milestone” as part of the Biden administration’s goal to pursue the first-ever offshore wind sales in the Gulf. in Mexico. The assessment, which analyzed the impacts of leasing on nature and wildlife, coincided with a finding of no significant impact.
“The completion of our environmental review is an important step forward to advance clean energy development in a responsible manner while promoting economic vitality and good-paying jobs in the Gulf of Mexico region, ” said BOEM Director Liz Klein in a statement.
“We will continue to work closely with our task force members, ocean users, and others to ensure that any development in the region is done responsibly and in a way that avoids, mitigates, or mitigates the potential impact on ocean users and the marine environment,” he continued.
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According to BOEM, federal officials are working with the Gulf of Mexico Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force – a collaboration of stakeholders including tribal and local officials – to conduct an environmental assessment and associated search without cause effects on Tuesday.
The announcement comes amid widespread calls from lawmakers, environmentalists and local East Coast leaders for the Biden administration to halt all offshore wind leasing and construction until a full An investigation into its impact on sensitive marine wildlife is underway. Since December, at least 39 whales and 37 dolphins have been found stranded on beaches along the East Coast near offshore wind survey sites.
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“These industrial wind grids are money grabs for big corporations and legacy builders for politicians,” Rep. Jeff Van Drew, RN.J., who represents New Jersey’s south coast, told Fox News Digital in April. “To replace fossil fuels, they would have to lease millions upon millions of acres of our oceans and lakes to generate the power we already do.”
“Imagine this: a wall of turbines lining our horizons for decades to come, generating more expensive energy for homes and businesses, killing marine life, destroying generational industries,” he continued. “The warnings are clear, and our president and our government must listen and act before it’s too late.”
Van Drew is one of several lawmakers who have repeatedly called for a federal offshore wind moratorium until further investigation into the effects of wind development is done. In March, Van Drew and Reps. Jared Golden, D-Maine, Chris Smith, RN.J., and Andy Harris, R-Md., called on federal officials to release more information about the effects on wildlife. , marking 1.7 million acres of water. along the Atlantic coast has been leased.
Additionally, a bill authored by Smith requiring a comprehensive, independent investigation of the current environmental review process of federal offshore wind projects passed on a bipartisan basis in a 244 -189 vote on March 30. The bill was introduced as an amendment to the Lower Energy Costs Act that was passed by the House in a slower vote on the same day.
“The approval process for the industrialization of offshore wind has left unanswered and unanswered many serious questions about the potentially harmful environmental impact on marine life and the ecosystems that now allow all those sea creatures great and small will thrive,” Smith said in a speech on the House floor.
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However, federal officials have continued to push for offshore wind development and dismissed criticism about impacts on wildlife, arguing that increased whale and dolphin deaths are unrelated to the development. in the air.
Days after taking office, President Biden issued an executive action directing his administration to expand opportunities for the offshore wind industry as part of his aggressive climate agenda to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Months later, he outlined goals to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy, including some in the Gulf of Mexico, by 2030, the most ambitious goal of its kind worldwide.
In May 2021, BOEM approved the 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind project 12 miles off the coast of Massachusetts, marking the first-ever large offshore wind approval. Then, in November 2021, the agency approved the 130-megawatt Southfork Wind project off the coast of Long Island, New York, the second commercial-scale offshore project.
And last year, BOEM finalized two wind energy areas in the Gulf of Mexico – 508,265 acres off the coast of Texas and 174,275 acres off the coast of Louisiana – within a larger 30 million acre call. area. The Department of the Interior proposed the lease sale of the premises in February.
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“Today’s announcement is an important step toward building the U.S. offshore wind sector,” National Ocean Industries Association President Erik Milito said Tuesday. “The Gulf of Mexico has long been renowned for its position as a major ocean energy hub, primarily in low-carbon oil barrels, and this success underscores its history of innovation and leadership.”
“New offshore wind lease sales – along with the continuation of a long-term oil and gas leasing program – offer a foundation for the continued success of the Gulf of Mexico’s unique and irreplaceable energy portfolio.”