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July 20 -- In response to the President’s call to advance offshore wind development and accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy, the Department of the Interior today announced next steps to bring the opportunity of offshore wind energy to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) works under its renewable energy competitive leasing process to identify the offshore locations that appear most suitable for development, taking into consideration potential impacts to resources and ocean users. BOEM is seeking public input on the identification of two potential wind energy areas (WEAs) in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). . . .

The first draft WEA is located approximately 24 nautical miles (nm) off the coast of Galveston, TX. The area for review totals 546,645 acres and has the potential to power 2.3 million homes with clean wind energy. The second draft WEA is located approximately 56 nm off the coast of Lake Charles, LA. The area for review totals 188,023 acres and has the potential to power 799,000 homes.

The two draft WEAs represent a subset of the original 30-million acre Gulf of Mexico Call Area that the Department of the Interior announced for public comment in October 2021. The draft WEAs were reduced to avoid potential impacts on other ocean uses and resources, such as commercial and recreational fishing, maritime navigation, military activities, marine protected species, avian species, and existing infrastructure.

Public comments on the draft WEAs will be accepted for 30 days beginning July 20, 2022. [August 19, 2022]

In addition to the draft WEAs, BOEM has prepared a draft environmental assessment (EA) covering the entire call area to consider the potential impacts from site characterization (e.g., marine mammal surveys) and site assessment (e.g., installation of meteorological buoys) activities expected to take place following lease issuance. The EA analysis will inform potential lease stipulations necessary to address identified environmental impacts associated with offshore wind leasing activities. Public comments on the draft EA will also be accepted for 30 days beginning July 20, 2022.

During the comment period, BOEM will hold two virtual public meetings where the public can learn more about the environmental review process. There will also be an opportunity for participants to ask questions and provide comments on the draft EA.
BOEM Gulf of Mexico Activities: https://www.boem.gov/renewable-energy/state-activities/gulf-mexico-activities

Press release: https://www.doi.gov/pressreleases/department-interior-announces-next-steps-offshore-wind-energy-gulf-mexico
Gulf of Mexico Draft WEAs: https://www.boem.gov/renewable-energy/state-activities/gulf-mexico-draft-weas
Regulations.gov comment page: https://www.regulations.gov/document/BOEM-2022-0036-0001

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