As part of President Obama's Climate Action Plan to create American jobs, develop clean energy sources and cut carbon pollution, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has announced the publication of its environmental assessment (EA) of an application for a wind energy resource assessment lease offshore Tybee Island, Georgia.
Southern Company would like to lease an area covering three Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) blocks, approximately three to 11 nautical miles off the coast of Tybee Island, with the intent to deploy a meteorological tower and/or buoys during a five-year lease term. The purpose of these devices is to characterize the wind resources (e.g., wind speed, direction) and collect other data regarding the lease area and surrounding region.
As required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), BOEM conducted an EA to consider environmental and socioeconomic impacts associated with issuing such a lease and subsequent site characterization activities, such as geophysical, archaeological and biological surveys conducted prior to constructing the meteorological tower and/or deploying the buoys.
Southern Company submitted to BOEM the application to lease the proposed area offshore Georgia in April 2011. Southern Company provided supplemental filings in 2012, which included additional data collection and technology testing activities to be conducted on the proposed lease. On December 14, 2012, BOEM published a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an EA and requested public comments on alternatives for consideration in the EA, as well as identification of important environmental issues associated with issuing the lease and related activities (77 FR 74512). BOEM considered these public comments in drafting the alternatives and assessed reasonably foreseeable environmental impacts associated with them. Comments received in response to the NOI can be viewed at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for Docket ID BOEM-2012-0074.
BOEM is now requesting public input on the recently completed EA, including comments on the completeness and adequacy of the environmental analysis, and on the measures and operating conditions in the EA designed to reduce or eliminate potential environmental impacts. BOEM will consider public comments on the EA before determining whether to issue a Finding of No Significant Impact, or conduct additional analysis under NEPA. The EA can be found by clicking here.
A 30-day comment period follows the April 2 Federal Register publication of BOEM's Notice of Availability of an Environmental Assessment for the lease application submitted by Southern Company. Comments on this EA must be postmarked or received by May 2.
Comments may be submitted to BOEM via the BOEM website at: http://www.boem.gov/About-BOEM/Public-Engagement/Public-Engagement-Opportunities.aspx (click on the "Open Comment Documents" link) or deliver to the following address. Office of Renewable Energy Programs Bureau of Ocean Energy Management 381 Elden Street, HM 1328 Herndon, Virginia 20170-4817 In addition to the request for written comments, BOEM is hosting two open house poster sessions to discuss the EA at the following locations. Wednesday, April 23 (6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.) Coastal Georgia Center 305 Fahm Street Savannah, GA 31401 Thursday, April 24 (6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.) Old School Cafeteria 204 Fifth Street Tybee Island, GA 31328 For more information about this project, go to http://www.boem.gov/State-Activities-Georgia/.