The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) said Thursday it had completed its environmental review of potential impacts from offshore wind energy leasing activities in the Humboldt Wind Energy Area, located 20 miles offshore northern California. Based on its analysis, BOEM has issued a finding of no significant impact (FONSI).
“The completion of this Environmental Assessment represents an important step forward for ensuring that any future renewable energy development – should a lease sale occur -- is done in a responsible manner,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton. “Working closely with Tribes, state and federal partners and key stakeholders, BOEM remains focused on ensuring that such development is done in a way that avoids or reduces potential impacts to the environment and other ocean users in the region.”
BOEM’s Environmental Assessment (EA) considers potential impacts from the issuance of leases within the Wind Energy Area that comprises nearly 132,369 acres (206.8 square miles) off the coast of Humboldt County, California. The Humboldt Wind Energy Area, if developed, could see the installation of wind turbines of up to 1.6 GW capacity in total, which is enough to power approximately 560,000 homes.
The EA considers potential environmental consequences of site characterization activities (i.e., biological, archeological, geological, and geophysical surveys and core samples) and site assessment activities (i.e., installation of meteorological buoys). The EA also considers project easements associated with each potential lease and related right-of-way grants for subsea cable corridors in the Humboldt Wind Energy Area.
Should a lease sale occur and before approving the construction of any offshore wind energy facility in the Humboldt Wind Energy Area, BOEM will develop an Environmental Impact Statement under the National Environmental Policy Act to analyze the project-specific environmental and socioeconomic consequences, in consultation with Tribes and appropriate federal, state, and local agencies, and with participation by stakeholders and the public.
On April 6, 2022 BOEM announced the release of the draft Morro Bay Wind Energy Area Environmental Assessment (EA) for public comment. The draft EA analyzed potential impacts from future commercial leasing and related site characterization and assessment activities within the Morro Bay WEA, which is located approximately 20 miles off the central California coastline.
The Morro Bay WEA covers approximately 240,898 acres (376 square miles), which, if developed could bring to the grid up to 3 GW of electricity - enough to power more than 1 million homes.
The announcement initiated a 30-day public review and comment period on the draft EA, which will end at 11:59 p.m. (Eastern) on Friday, May 6, 2022.
The Biden administration plans to have 30 GW of installed offshore wind capacity by 2030, which the administration said would be enough to power 10 million homes and cut 78 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.