The Biden government announced Thursday that it had determined that wind farms off the coast of New Jersey and New York would not cause major disruption to the local area, clearing a major hurdle for lease sales in the area.
In a statement, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced that it has released a No Significant Impact (FONSI) result on the lease of nearly 800,000 acres in New York Bight. The bay covers an area between Cape May in New Jersey and Montauk Point in Long Island.
“Completing this environmental review is an important step forward in advancing the Biden Harris government’s goal of increasing the development of renewable energy in the state and seas,” said BOEM director Amanda Lefton in a statement. “BOEM is focused on ensuring that any development at New York Bight is carried out responsibly and in a way that avoids or minimizes impacts on the ocean and other marine users in the area.”
The BOEM assessment predicted that all impacts on recreational and commercial fishing in the region would range “from negligible to negligible”. It projected similarly minimal impacts to fish, sea turtle, and marine mammal habitats. The BOEM also said that potential projects would have little or no public health or safety impact, and the office found no evidence that facilities violated local, state, or tribal laws to use the area.
The Office first announced the New York Bight’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EA) in March and released a draft Environmental Impact Assessment in August, followed by two public virtual stakeholder meetings that same month.
Interior officials predicted that offshore wind farms in the bay could produce more than 7 gigawatts of electricity. The Biden government has set a broader target of 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power.
The administration has already approved two offshore wind projects, including one off Rhode Island and another off Massachusetts.