On Thursday, the Commission voted to approve a Consistency Determination for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) leasing activities associated with future offshore wind development in the Humboldt Wind Energy Area, located in federal waters approximately 21 miles offshore of Eureka. This review includes BOEM’s activities to conduct a lease sale for up to 132,369 acres of federal waters for the future development of offshore wind energy facilities. It also includes BOEM’s work to permit lessees to conduct site characterization and assessment activities and submit a construction and operations plan for development of offshore wind energy on their leases. It does not include consideration of potential effects related to future construction and operation of any commercial wind power facilities - those will be evaluated under a future review.
The staff recommendation included several important conditions to ensure Coastal Act consistency with any lease activities. A coalition of environmental organizations supported conditions that require important habitat and sensitive species protections including response plans, anchoring plan and a vessel speed restriction of ten knots, on board monitors and robust tribal consultation. Environmental Defense Center and others pointed out that BOEM’s narrow focus for their lease sale review does not meet Coastal Zone Management Act requirements and requested that a board range of recommendations for future phases of development also be brought in for conditions for this consistency determination to make clear what the expectation will be for this project as it moves forward. The Commission did not make this change, however, the Consistency Determination does make important improvements to BOEM’s lease sale evaluation process. Commissioner Wilson motioned to approve the determination and it was unanimously approved.
Why You Should Care
Commissioner Sara Aminzadeh sums it up!
Negative Conservation Vote
Commissioner Mike Wilson emphasized that his community expects robust engagement with lease and project evaluation. Commissioner Sara Aminzadeh reiterated that it is essential that we move this forward as quickly as possible to decarbonize the economy and approve large-scale renewables. It is also essential that we do so intentionally to minimize impacts and this approval sets us on a course to do both.