On Tuesday, the Biden administration was inching closer to getting the go-ahead to sell offshore wind energy leases across about 682,000 acres in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Bureau of Marine Energy Management (BOEM) has released a final environmental assessment that it said was a “significant milestone” as part of the Biden administration’s goal of hosting the first-ever offshore wind lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico. The assessment analyzed the impacts of leasing on the environment and wildlife, but at the same time found no significant impacts.
“The completion of the environmental review is an important step forward in promoting clean energy development in a responsible manner while promoting economic vitality and high-paying jobs in the Gulf Coast region,” BOEM President Liz Klein said in a statement. said.
“We will continue to work with Task Force members, marine users and others to ensure that development in the region is conducted responsibly and in a manner that avoids, mitigates and mitigates potential impacts on marine users and the marine environment. We will work closely together,” she continued.
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Federal officials, in collaboration with the Gulf of Mexico Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force, which works with stakeholders, including tribal and local officials, released an environmental assessment on Tuesday and the findings of no significant impacts, according to BOEM. Created.
The announcement prompted calls from lawmakers, environmental activists and local leaders along the East Coast to call Biden to halt all offshore wind leases and construction until a thorough investigation into the impact on sensitive marine wildlife is conducted. This was done amid widespread calls for the government to do so. Since December, at least 39 whales and 37 dolphins have been spotted stranded on shore near offshore wind research sites along the east coast.
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Rep. Jeff Van Drew, RN.J., who represents the southern New Jersey coastline, told Fox News Digital in April, “These industrial wind grids are money-making for big business, and political. For the family, he’s a legacy builder.” “To replace fossil fuels, we would need to lease millions of acres of oceans and lakes to generate the electricity we already produce.”
“Think: Turbine walls will obscure our sights for decades to come, generate more expensive energy for homes and businesses, kill marine life, and destroy the next generation of industry.” he continued. “The warning is clear and the president and government need to listen and act before it’s too late.”
Van Drew is one of several lawmakers who have repeatedly called for the federal government to suspend offshore wind farms pending further investigation into their impact on wind development. In March, Rep. Van Drew, Maine Democrat Jared Golden, Rep. RN.J. Chris Smith, and Republican Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland told federal officials they referred to 1.7 million acres of water and wildlife. requested that more information be released about the impact on The Atlantic coastline was already rented.
Additionally, a bill authored by Smith to require a comprehensive and independent review of the current environmental review process for federal offshore wind projects was passed bipartisanly by a vote of 244 to 189 on March 30. The House enacted the Energy Cost Reduction Act, which passed with fewer votes on the same day.
In his address to the House of Representatives, Smith said, “The approval process for industrialization of offshore wind involves a number of potential detrimental environmental impacts on marine life and the ecosystems that now allow marine life, both large and small, to thrive. Serious issues remain unresolved,” he said.
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Yet federal officials continue to push for offshore wind development, dismissing criticism of its impact on wildlife, arguing that the increased mortality of whales and dolphins has nothing to do with wind development.
Days after taking office, President Biden issued an executive order directing the administration to expand opportunities for the offshore wind industry as part of aggressive climate action to curb greenhouse gas emissions. A few months later, he outlined a goal of 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy, including some in the Gulf of Mexico, by 2030, the most ambitious goal of its kind in the world.
In May 2021, BOEM approved an 800-megawatt vineyard wind project 19 miles off Massachusetts, marking the first ever large-scale offshore wind approval. And in November 2021, the agency approved its second commercial-scale offshore project, the 130-megawatt South Fork Wind Project off Long Island, New York.
And last year, BOEM finalized two wind energy areas in the Gulf of Mexico (508,265 acres offshore Texas and 174,275 acres offshore Louisiana) within a wider 30 million acre calling area. The Home Office proposed a lease sale in these areas in February.
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“Today’s announcement is an important step toward building the U.S. offshore wind sector,” said Eric Milito, president of the National Association of Marine Industry, on Tuesday. “The Gulf of Mexico has long been known for its status as a major marine energy hub supplying low-carbon barrels of oil, and this achievement highlights its history of innovation and leadership.”
“The new offshore wind lease sale, along with the resumption of our long-term oil and gas leasing program, provides the foundation for the continued success of our remarkable and irreplaceable energy portfolio in the Gulf of Mexico.”