(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Department of the Interior on Wednesday proposed the first offshore wind lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico, part of the Biden administration’s plan to expand offshore wind opportunities to more regions of the country and building on investments in the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
“America’s clean energy transition is happening right here and now. At the department, we are taking action to jump-start our offshore wind industry and harness American innovation to deliver reliable, affordable power to homes and businesses,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. “There is no time to waste in making bold investments to address the climate crisis, and building a strong domestic offshore wind industry is key to meeting that challenge head on.”
The proposed sale is part of the leasing path announced by Haaland in 2021 to meet the Biden administration’s goal to deploy 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030 and follows the department’s approval of the nation’s first two commercial scale offshore wind projects.
Since the start of the Biden administration, the department has held three offshore wind lease auctions – including a record-breaking sale offshore New York and the first sale offshore the Pacific coast in California – initiated environmental review of 10 offshore wind projects, and advanced the process to explore additional wind energy areas in Oregon, the Gulf of Maine and central Atlantic. The department has also taken steps to evolve its approach to offshore wind to drive toward union-built projects and a domestic based supply chain.
“BOEM is committed to ensuring any offshore wind activities are done in a manner that avoids or minimizes potential impacts to the ocean and ocean users,” said Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Elizabeth Klein. “Today’s announcement comes after years of engagement with tribes, other government agencies, ocean users and stakeholders, and this proposed sale notice provides another opportunity for them to weigh in on potential offshore wind leasing in the Gulf of Mexico.”
The proposed sale notice (PSN) announced Wednesday includes a 102,480-acre area offshore Lake Charles, La., and two areas offshore Galveston, Texas, one comprising 102,480 acres and the other comprising 96,786 acres. BOEM is seeking public comments on which, if any, of the two lease areas offshore Galveston should be offered in the final sale notice. These areas have the potential to power almost 1.3 million homes with clean energy.
BOEM is also seeking feedback on several lease stipulations that would reaffirm its commitment to create good-paying jobs and engage with ocean users and other stakeholders. Some of these potential stipulations include:
• Credits to bidders that commit to supporting workforce training programs for the offshore wind industry, developing a domestic supply chain for the offshore wind industry, or a combination of both.
• Establishing and contributing to a fisheries compensatory mitigation fund or contributing to an existing fund to mitigate potential negative impacts to commercial and for-hire recreational fisheries caused by offshore wind development in the Gulf of Mexico.
• Requiring that lessees provide a regular progress report summarizing engagement with tribes and ocean users potentially affected by proposed offshore wind activities.
The PSN will publish in the Federal Register later this month and initiates a 60-day public comment period. If the department decides to proceed with the sale, BOEM will publish a final sale notice at least 30 days ahead of the sale, which would announce the time and date of the lease sale and the companies qualified to participate in it.
To find out how to comment on the PSN, go to BOEM’s Gulf of Mexico Activities webpage.
– U.S. Department of the Interior