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The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has found “no significant impact” in its environmental review of potential impacts from offshore wind energy leasing activities in the Humboldt Wind Energy Area (WEA), located 20 miles offshore northern California.
The Humboldt WEA comprises nearly 132,369 acres (206.8 square miles) off the coast of Humboldt County, California which, if developed, could bring up to 1.6 GW of clean energy to the grid, enough to power approximately 560,000 homes.
BOEM’s Environmental Assessment (EA) considers potential impacts from the issuance of leases within the WEA, including site characterization activities (i.e., biological, archeological, geological, and geophysical surveys and core samples) and site assessment activities (i.e., installation of meteorological buoys). The EA also considers project easements associated with each potential lease and related right-of-way grants for subsea cable corridors in the Humboldt WEA.
“The completion of this Environmental Assessment represents an important step forward for ensuring that any future renewable energy development – should a lease sale occur — is done in a responsible manner,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton. “Working closely with Tribes, state and federal partners and key stakeholders, BOEM remains focused on ensuring that such development is done in a way that avoids or reduces potential impacts to the environment and other ocean users in the region.”
BOEM initially announced its intent to prepare an env for the Humboldt WEA on July 28, 2021 and sought public input, holding two public virtual meetings with stakeholders and initiating a 30-day public comment period.
Should a lease sale occur and before approving the construction of any offshore wind energy facility in the Humboldt WEA, BOEM will develop an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act to analyze the project-specific environmental and socioeconomic consequences, in consultation with Tribes and appropriate federal, state, and local agencies, and with participation by stakeholders and the public.
Next week, BOEM is set to hold a wind energy auction for two lease areas offshore the Carolinas. The area covers 110,091 acres in the Carolina Long Bay area that, if developed, could result in at least 1.3 gigawatts of offshore wind energy, or enough to power nearly 500,000 homes.
BOEM plans to hold seven potential lease sales by 2025, including the upcoming Carolina Long Bay lease sale and February’s New York Bight lease sale, which set a record as the nation’s highest-grossing competitive offshore energy lease sale in history, including oil and gas lease sales.
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