The Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management (BOEM) revealed its intention to request Calls for Information and Nominations for a variety of Call Areas along the Central Atlantic and Oregon coasts on April 27. The Calls for Information and Nominations evidence BOEM’s continued push to advance the development of offshore wind resources. BOEM intends to officially publish the Call Areas—those portions of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) preliminarily identified as suitable for development—for public comment on April 29, 2022.
The Central Atlantic and Oregon Call Areas comprise nearly 5.5 million acres of the OCS. The Central Atlantic Call Areas sit off the coasts of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. Consisting of six distinct areas, the Central Atlantic Call Areas account for most of 5.5 million acres BOEM aims to analyze for leasing. These areas are either adjacent to or sit further east of several existing offshore wind leases. The two Oregon Call Areas—designated as Coos Bay and Brookings along the southwestern coast—are much smaller in size and closer to the Oregon coastline. Each of the Call Areas announced by BOEM have the potential to impact a variety of competing OCS uses and implicate several differing environmental considerations.
By publishing the Calls for Information and Nominations in the Federal Register, BOEM will initiate the preliminary environmental review process required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for lease identification and issuance. The initial public comment period will last 60 days, which will end on June 28, 2022. This comment period provides those interested in developing the Call Areas an opportunity to define the scope of the subsequent lease sale, inform the agency of the feasibility of developing those areas, and identify potential hurdles to future development. The comment period also offers developers the chance to engage with the agency representatives that will shepherd the lease sale forward. Of course, developers may also seek to add potential lease areas for BOEM’s consideration.
Early engagement in the NEPA process is one tool developers should employ when seeking to develop federal energy resources. The NEPA process is time-intensive. Early engagement through the public comment process provides an initial opportunity for developing a defensible environmental review that will enable rather than delay project development.
Contact Andrew Glenn, Megan Caldwell, Jon Micah Goeller, or another member of Husch Blackwell’s Wind Energy Team with any questions you have as we continue to monitor changes that impact the offshore—and onshore—wind industries.