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U.S. Interior Department Takes Steps to Strengthen Offshore Clean Energy Development

Proposed regulations will streamline and improve processes for offshore wind initiatives

Courtesy of U.S. Department of the Interior

WASHINGTON — The Department of the Interior today announced that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will publish a proposed rule to update regulations for clean energy development on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The proposed regulations would modernize regulations, streamline overly complex and burdensome processes, clarify ambiguous provisions and enhance compliance provisions in order to decrease costs and uncertainty associated with the deployment of offshore wind facilities. The proposed reforms are estimated to save developers approximately $1 billion over a 20 year period.

“America’s clean energy transition is happening right here and now. Offshore wind will power our communities, advance our environmental justice goals and stimulate our economy by creating thousands of good-paying union jobs across the nation,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Updating these regulations will facilitate the safe and efficient development of offshore wind energy resources, provide certainty to developers and help ensure a fair return to the U.S. taxpayers.”

The Department’s offshore clean energy program has matured over the past 13 years since regulations were first promulgated. BOEM has conducted 11 auctions and manages 27 active commercial leases. Based on this experience, the Department has identified opportunities to modernize its regulations to facilitate the development of offshore wind energy resources to meet U.S. climate and renewable energy objectives.

The proposed rule contains eight major components, including:

  • Eliminating unnecessary requirements for the deployment of meteorological buoys
  • Increasing survey flexibility
  • Improving the project design and installation verification process
  • Establishing a public Renewable Energy Leasing Schedule
  • Reforming BOEM’s renewable energy auction regulations
  • Tailoring financial assurance requirements and instruments
  • Clarifying safety management system regulations
  • Revising other provisions and making technical corrections

Over the past two years, the Interior Department has launched the American offshore wind industry by approving the nation’s first two commercial scale offshore wind projects and evolving its approach to offshore wind to drive towards union-built projects and a domestic based supply chain. Since the start of the Biden-Harris administration, BOEM has held three offshore wind lease auctions — including a record-breaking sale offshore New York and the first-ever sale offshore the U.S. West Coast in California, initiated environmental review of ten offshore wind projects, and advanced the process to explore additional Wind Energy Areas in the Gulf of Mexico, Oregon, Gulf of Maine, and Central Atlantic.

By 2025, the Department plans to potentially hold up to four additional offshore lease sales and complete the review of at least 16 plans to construct and operate commercial, offshore wind energy facilities, which would represent more than 22 gigawatts of clean energy for the nation.

A notice of proposed rulemaking will publish in the Federal Register in the coming days for a 60-day comment period through regulations.gov.

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