The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced that it is preparing a supplemental Environmental Assessment (EA) to consider additional wind leasing options offshore North Carolina and South Carolina and is seeking public comments. Specifically, BOEM is considering a lease sale for the Wilmington East Wind Energy Area (WEA), located offshore North and South Carolina (Long Bay area).
“Environmental reviews are essential to a strong resource management program,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton. “At BOEM, scientific based decision-making remains a top priority and will inform the path forward offshore the Carolinas. We welcome and appreciate your input into this process.”
The supplemental EA will consider new information relevant to environmental considerations that were not available when BOEM published the Commercial Wind Lease Issuance and Site Assessment Activities on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf Offshore North Carolina - Revised Environmental Assessment in 2015 .
As part of this public process, BOEM is seeking input on additional information, issues and alternatives to be considered in the supplemental EA.
The comment period will be open for 30 days, beginning on August 13, 2021, and ending at 11:59 p.m. (Eastern Time) on September 12, 2021.
In 2015, BOEM’s EA considered the lease sale of the Kitty Hawk WEA, as well as the Wilmington East and West WEAs. At that time, BOEM found that no reasonably foreseeable significant impacts were expected to occur as a result of the proposed lease sales or any of the alternatives contemplated in the EA.
In 2017, BOEM held a competitive lease sale (i.e., auction) for the Kitty Hawk WEA.
BOEM is now considering a lease sale for the Wilmington East WEA. As such, the supplemental environmental review evaluates new circumstances and information relevant to reasonably foreseeable environmental impacts that would occur from site characterization activities (i.e., shallow hazards, geological, geotechnical, archeological, and biological surveys of the lease area and potential cable routes) and site assessment activities (i.e., installation and operation of meteorological buoys) associated with issuing wind energy leases in the Wilmington East WEA.
Some of this new information includes a recent marine cultural resources survey, changes in the status of some Endangered Species Act-listed species, the listing of new species, and the designation of the North Atlantic Right Whale Critical Habitat.