To advance offshore wind development and accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced next steps to bring the opportunity of offshore wind energy to the Gulf of Mexico.
In a release issued July 20, 2022, the Department of Interior explained the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) works under its renewable energy competitive leasing process to identify the offshore locations that appear most suitable for development, taking into consideration potential impacts to resources and ocean users.
The BOEM is currently seeking public input on the identification of two potential wind energy areas (WEAs) in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).
“The promise of renewable energy is undeniable, as is the momentum for a clean energy transition,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. “ . . . the Gulf of Mexico is one of many commitments we are making to spur innovation, create good-paying jobs, and collaborate with states, Tribes and communities to ensure that we are doing everything we can to care for our Earth.”
Over the past year, the federal government has launched the American offshore wind industry by approving and celebrating the groundbreaking of the nation’s first two commercial-scale, offshore wind projects in federal waters.
By 2025, the Interior Department plans to potentially hold up to five additional offshore lease sales and complete the review of at least 16 plans to construct and operate commercial, offshore wind energy facilities, which would represent more than 22 gigawatts of clean energy for the nation.
“BOEM used the most current scientific data to analyze 30 million acres in the Call Area to find the best spaces for wind energy development. We are invested in working in partnership with states and communities to find areas that avoid or minimize conflicts with other ocean uses and marine life in the Gulf of Mexico,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton.
“We are committed to a transparent, inclusive and data-driven process that ensures all ocean users flourish in the Gulf.”
Where Would Offshore Wind Be Located in the Gulf of Mexico?
The first draft WEA is located approximately 24 nautical miles (nm) off the coast of Galveston, Texas. The area for review totals 546,645 acres and has the potential to power 2.3 million homes with clean wind energy.
The second draft WEA is located approximately 56 nm off the coast of Lake Charles, Louisiana. This area for review totals 188,023 acres and has the potential to power 799,000 homes.
The two draft WEAs represent a subset of the original 30-million acre Gulf of Mexico Call Area that the Department of the Interior announced for public comment in October 2021.
The draft WEAs were reduced to avoid potential impacts on other ocean uses and resources, such as commercial and recreational fishing, maritime navigation, military activities, marine protected species, avian species and existing infrastructure.
Public comments on the draft WEAs will be accepted for 30 days beginning July 20, 2022.
In addition to the draft WEAs, BOEM has prepared a draft environmental assessment (EA) covering the entire call area to consider the potential impacts from site characterization (e.g., marine mammal surveys) and site assessment (e.g., installation of meteorological buoys) activities expected to take place following lease issuance. The EA analysis will inform potential lease stipulations necessary to address identified environmental impacts associated with offshore wind leasing activities. Public comments on the draft EA will also be accepted for 30 days beginning July 20, 2022.
During the comment period, BOEM will hold two virtual public meetings where the public can learn more about the environmental review process. There will also be an opportunity for participants to ask questions and provide comments on the draft EA.
Information about how to register for the public meetings, and instructions for how to submit questions and comments can be on BOEM’s Gulf of Mexico Renewable Energy webpage.
Gulf of Mexico Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force Meeting Materials
The BOEM is held its third Gulf of Mexico Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force meeting on July 27, 2022.
Click here to get information on the previous two meetings.
The Task Force is a partnership between federal, state, and local agencies and Tribal governments tasked with coordinating renewable energy planning activities on the Outer Continental Shelf in the Gulf of Mexico. It serves as a forum to discuss stakeholder issues, exchanges data, and information about ocean use and resources and facilitate collaboration opportunities.
The purpose of the meetings is to present the potential areas identified in federal waters offshore the Gulf of Mexico that may be suitable for offshore renewable energy development. The Task Force provides critical information to the decision-making process.
Specifically, this meeting aimed to:
- Facilitate coordination and consultation among federal, state, local, and tribal governments regarding offshore wind energy and the renewable energy leasing process on the OCS in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Update the Task Force and stakeholders on recent state activities.
- Provide an overview of and seek in-depth feedback on the proposed Wind Energy Areas.
- Provide an overview and feedback on the draft EA to consider the potential impacts from issuance of offshore wind energy leases within 30-million-acres just west of the Mississippi River to the Texas/Mexican border
- Provide forum for discussion and information to ensure BOEM is informed about TF members’ interests
- Provide opportunities for public input about the topics being considered by the Task Force.
- Task Force Meeting Agenda
- Task Force Meeting Roster
- Gulf of Mexico Task Force State Memo
- Gulf of Mexico Task Force BOEM Charter
- Draft WEAs
- Draft Environmental Assessment
- Gulf of Mexico Questions and Answers
- Potential Offshore Wind Foundations
- The BOEM Renewable Energy Process
- About BOEM Fact Sheet
- Renewable Energy Fact Sheet
- Wind Energy Commercial Leasing Process
- A Citizen’s Guide to the BOEM Renewable Energy Authorization Process
- Regulatory Framework and Guidelines
- Offshore Wind in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico: Regional Economic
Modeling & Site-Specific Analyses
- Offshore Renewable Energy Technologies in the Gulf of Mexico
- Fisheries FAQ’s