Interior clears key hurdle for wind farms off New York and New Jersey

Source: By Zack Budryk, The Hill • Posted: Sunday, December 19, 2021

The Biden administration on Thursday announced it has determined wind farms offshore New Jersey and New York would not pose a major disruption to the local environment, clearing a key hurdle for lease sales in the region.

In a statement, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced it has issued a finding of no significant impact for leasing nearly 800,000 acres in the New York Bight. The bight encompasses an area between Cape May in New Jersey and Montauk Point in Long Island.

“The completion of this Environmental Assessment is an important step forward in advancing the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of increasing renewable energy development on federal lands and waters,” BOEM Director Amanda Lefton said in a statement. “BOEM is focused on ensuring that any development in the New York Bight is done responsibly and in a way that avoids or minimizes impacts to the ocean and other ocean users in the region.”

The BOEM assessment projected any effects on recreational and commercial fishing in the area would “range from negligible to minor.” It projected similarly minimal effects on fish, sea turtle and marine mammal habitats. Potential projects would also have little to no impact on public health or safety, according to BOEM, and the bureau found no indication that installations would violate any local, federal or tribal laws governing use of the area.

The bureau first announced the New York Bight environmental assessment in March and published a draft environmental assessment in August followed by two public, virtual meetings with stakeholders the same month.

Interior officials projected offshore wind farms in the Bight could produce more than 7 gigawatts of electricity. The Biden administration has set a broader goal of 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power.

The administration has approved two offshore wind projects already, including a site off Rhode Island and another off Massachusetts.