Mariners have a new source for information about offshore wind energy projects proposed off the East Coast.
Offshore Wind in the Northeast Region is a new webpage compiled by the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils that shows all planned and potential offshore wind energy lease areas to date from southern New England to Cape Hatteras, N.C.
The page is intended as a one-stop information source, for mariners and other stakeholders with interests in how the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management plans leasing for offshore wind energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).
The page links to BOEM planning documents, government planning documents and studies, and wind developers’ information. It also maintains an updated list of public meetings and information sessions, like a series of meetings held this week in New York and New Jersey that were aimed at involving the recreational fishing sector.
Key links include the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portals, public websites that compile information about economic activity and environmental conditions off the East Coast. The websites’ mapping overlay capabilities allow shipping traffic, fishing activity and other uses to be compared to proposed wind farm sites – data that is shaping much of the debate over whether wind energy can be compatible with long-established commerce on the ocean.
While the Trump administration’s Department of Interior is favoring offshore wind development, the President’s June 19 order setting a new National Ocean Policy could undo regional planning bodies (RPBs) – consortiums of state and federal agencies and advisors established under the Obama administration’s 2010 ocean policy.
The earliest RPBs were established in New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, which set up the data portals, Much of the information they gather is being used by BOEM in its planning process, which so far has granted 13 offshore wind leases and is looking at even more potential lease area in the New York Bight.