On July 20, 2022, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) announced it is seeking public comments on two draft wind energy areas (WEAs) in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
As illustrated on the map, below, the first WEA, covering 188,023 acres, is located 56 nautical miles off the coast of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and has the potential to power 799,000 homes. The second WEA, covering 546,645 acres, is located 24 nautical miles off the coast of Galveston, Texas, and has the potential to power 2.3 million homes.
The entire 734,668 acres covered by the draft WEAs is only a small fraction of the original 30-million-acre Call Area published by DOI for public comment in November of 2021. According to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the reduction in acreage was to avoid impacting other ocean uses and resources, such as existing infrastructure, commercial and recreational fishing, marine protected species, avian species, maritime navigation, and military activities.
Although not required under the governing regulations, public comments on the draft WEAs will be accepted for 30 days beginning July 20, 2022. BOEM will consider the comments received to finalize the WEAs and publish an Area ID memorandum.
BOEM also announced it was seeking public comments on a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) covering the entire Gulf of Mexico Call Area. The draft EA is focused on the potential impacts from site characterization and site assessment activities expected to take place after the issuance of a research or commercial wind energy lease. Public comments on the draft EA will also be accepted for 30 days beginning July 20, 2022.
Information on how to provide comments on the draft WEAs can be found at the following link: https://www.boem.gov/renewable-energy/state-activities/gulf-mexico-wea.
Information on how to provide comments on the draft EA can be found at the following link: https://www.boem.gov/renewable-energy/state-activities/gulf-mexico-draft-ea.