The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced Tuesday it will conduct a regional environmental review of potential development activities on the five offshore wind lease areas off California’s central and north coasts.
The Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) could have the effect of speeding the planning and approval process for West Coast wind power development. BOEM will publish the plan in the Dec. 20 Federal Register, starting a 60-day public comment period.
“This regional environmental analysis will help ensure that timely decisions can be made to advance offshore wind while protecting the ocean environment, marine life, and other ocean uses,” said Doug Boren, BOEM’s Pacific regional director. “This approach also ensures both a comprehensive review of the California areas and improved efficiencies for future offshore wind project reviews.”
The PEIS will outline potential impacts of federal waters offshore wind energy development, and how mitigation measures could change those future impacts, according to the agency.
“BOEM will conduct subsequent site-specific NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) analyses and consultations for individual proposed wind energy projects as construction and operations plans for those projects are received,” according to BOEM.
BOEM will hold two virtual public scoping sessions Feb. 6 and Feb. 8. Information about the PEIS and registration details will be available on the BOEM website at https://www.boem.gov/caoffshorewindpeis.
The five offshore wind energy lease areas off the coast of California were awarded after a December 2022 auction by BOEM that brought in over $757 million from wind companies.
Wind power advocates at the industry non-profit Oceantic Network observed the Pacific coast regional environmental review would be “similar to one done in the New York/New Jersey Bight back in 2022. The PEIS will describe potential impacts of offshore wind development off California’s coast, as well as potential mitigation measures and their impacts.”
“By doing preliminary analysis on the newly leased West Coast areas, BOEM will streamline offshore wind development in California and build in environmental protections on the front-end, said Oceantic founder and CEO Liz Burdock. “This proactive action is exactly the type of leadership we need from our State and federal governments.”