Overview of the Environmental Assessment for Lease Issuance and Site Assessment Activities off Rhode Island and Massachusetts July 16-17, 2012 Narragansett, RI and New Bedford, MA Maureen A. Bornholdt, Program Manager Jennifer Kilanski, Environmental Protection Specialist Office of Renewable Energy ProgramsBureau of Ocean Energy Management
Major Milestones • August 2011- Call for Information and Nominations and Notice of Intent to prepare an environmental assessment (EA) • February 2012 – Area Identification of RI/MA Wind Energy Area (WEA) • July 2012 - Notice of Availability of the EA
Outline • Area of Mutual Interest and Call Area • Overview of the Environmental Assessment (EA): • Activities and resources considered • Identification of the proposed action and alternatives • Standard operating conditions • Alternatives considered • How to comment
Overview of the EA • Resources considered • Proposed action (preferred alternative) • Standard operating conditions • Other alternatives considered • Conclusions • Mandatory Consultations • How to comment
Environmental and Socioeconomic Resources Considered • Physical • Air Quality • Water Quality • Biological • Coastal Habitats • Benthic Resources • Marine Mammals • Sea Turtles • Avian and Bat Species • Fish and Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) • Socioeconomic • Cultural Resources • Military Uses • Environmental Justice • Land Use and Coastal Infrastructure • Commercial and Recreational Fishing Activities • Aesthetics and Visual Impacts • Demographics and Employment
Proposed Action (Alternative A)and Activities Considered • Lease issuance in all areas of the WEA • Associated site characterization surveys (e.g., shallow hazards, geological, geotechnical, archaeological, and biological surveys) • Subsequent site assessment activities (e.g., construction and operation of meteorological towers and/or buoys)
Standard Operating Conditions • Based on previous consultations • Part of the proposed action or “in place” • Developed to reduce or eliminate the potential environmental risks and include: • Seasonal prohibition of pile driving (Nov-April) • Avoidance of potential archaeological resources • Reduced vessel speeds • Minimum separation from marine mammals and sea turtles
Alternative CExclusion of 15 nmi from Inhabited Massachusetts Coast
Alternative FNo Action • No wind energy leases would be issued and no site assessment activities would be approved in the WEA at this time. • Data needed to successfully determine the feasibility of potential proposed lease areas for commercial wind energy development would not be collected.
Conclusions With standard operating conditions in place, no reasonably foreseeable significant impacts identified Negligible to minor impacts expected
Mandatory Consultations National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) Endangered Species Act (ESA) Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Essential Fish Habitat (EFH))
Next Steps Based on the nature and extent of comments received, we may: Publish a Finding No Significant Impacts (FONSI); Revise the EA; or Determine that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is required.
How to Comment • Comment period closes August 2, 2012 • On www.regulations.govuse Keyword : BOEM–2012–0048 • In written form either by hand or by mail: Program Manager Office of Renewable Energy Programs Bureau of Ocean Energy Management 381 Elden Street, HM 1328 Herndon, Virginia 20170–4817
Contact Jennifer Kilanski, Environmental Protection Specialist firstname.lastname@example.org 703-787-1311