Gulf of Mexico, BOEM, February 2022

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BOEM, Gulf of Mexico update

Remarkable global interest in the articles shared from summer 2020: Gulf-mexico-leasing-round-offshore-wind and June 2021: Boem-gulf-mexico-intergovernmental-renewable-energy-task, I thought the community may welcome an update.

Today’s session started with a tribal incantation and referenced the Biden administration’s 30GW of offshore wind by 2030,

Progress has been made and I was struck during today’s BOEM task force meeting at a range of developments encompassing the integration of oil and gas assets, supply chain mapping and zonal bathymetry. with water depths of up to 400 metres.

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What’s New? 

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) 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 (OCS) in the Gulf of Mexico. It serves as a forum to discuss stakeholder issues, exchange data and information about ocean use and resources, and facilitate collaboration opportunities.

BOEM hosted four, sector-specific Gulf of Mexico Fisheries workshops January 19-20, 2022.

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BOEM announced on January 11, 2022, news that a draft environmental assessment (EA) to consider potential offshore wind leasing in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The agency is seeking public input concerning the development of offshore wind in these same areas in the Gulf of Mexico. 

The draft EA, which will be completed this summer, will consider potential environmental consequences of site characterization activities (i.e., biological, archaeological and geological, as well as geophysical surveys and core samples) and site assessment activities (i.e., installation of meteorological buoys) associated with the possibility of issuing wind energy leases in the Western and Central Gulf of Mexico.

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BOEM’s renewable energy leases only grant the exclusive right to submit plans for BOEM’s consideration. Once a lease is obtained, a lessee may submit a Site Assessment Plan (SAP) describing how the lessee will conduct resource assessment activities, such as the installation of meteorological towers or buoys, and technology testing during the site assessment phase of the commercial lease. 

Approval of a plan authorizing the construction of an OCS renewable energy project in the Gulf of Mexico would be subject to a detailed environmental analysis. 

Some companies are looking outwith the areas and a special process allows these unsolicited proposals to be fairly assessed.

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Public Engagement 

BOEM does not consider anonymous comments. Please include your name and address as part of your submittal. All comments submitted will be made part of the public record and will be posted publicly without change. Comments must be sent by or postmarked no later than 11:59 PM on Feb. 9th, 2022. 

Today’s session encompassed stakeholder breakout sessions, the outcomes of which awere reported back during the session. A lively question and answer session also enabled members of the public to share their thoughts with both BOEM and the assembled panel of experts.

Cooperating Agencies 

BOEM invites other federal agencies and Tribes to consider becoming cooperating agencies in the preparation of this EA.  

Environmental Science

The analysis covered in the EA will ONLY be for issuing leases and the site assessment and characterization activities. Examples of these activities include  

Installation of meteorological (met) buoys or towers  

There will be additional opportunities for engagement and consultation at these later steps 

The EA may be used for more than one lease auction; however, the analysis will be for a single auction.  This is similar to BOEM’s conventional energy National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis. 

The leasing path, laid out in the table below, shows the Gulf Of Mexico region at an advanced stage:

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With legal intervention halting gulf drilling-leases the opportunity to transition for cities such as Houston is all too evident. The United States is engaged with offshore wind, floating wind and hydrogen and and at full throttle!

Stay informed through me and with over 2000 stakeholders at the Offshore Wind and Hydrogen  Professionals Group.