Question: What does responsibly developing offshore wind look like?
BOEM: BOEM takes its responsibility to manage the development of energy and mineral resources in an environmentally and economically responsible way very seriously. Working with tribes, governments, stakeholders and ocean users, BOEM identifies the places that appear to pose the greatest prospects for energy development and pose the least environmental or other user conflict. We use the best available science, regulatory certainty and community engagement as guides.
Through our statutory and regulatory mandates, and by working closely with other federal agency partners, BOEM's goal is to ensure that offshore wind projects avoid negative impacts to crucial environmental, cultural and historic resources to the greatest extent possible and—where impacts cannot be avoided—identify required mitigation measures.
NWF: NWF has developed recommendations for how we can swiftly increase grid capacity while minimizing impacts. Responsible development starts with avoiding impacts on wildlife and the environment wherever possible. The impacts that cannot be avoided will need to be minimized so that when wildlife does interact with offshore wind development, they are less likely to be harmed. When harm is likely to occur or does occur, it is then important to mitigate, or compensate for, that harm. Responsible development also requires that potential impacts are monitored so that we can continue to learn and adapt our methods for reducing impacts and risk.
Responsible development also addresses impacts and opportunities for people and communities. This includes minimizing the impacts on other ocean uses, such as fishing, shipping and recreation. Development activities should also happen in consultation with Native American tribes and communities, local government and other stakeholders. All efforts should be informed by the best science and technological information. The result is a science-based and stakeholder-informed process to define and develop responsible offshore wind projects.
Question: How will communities benefit from offshore wind?
BOEM: Offshore wind presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a new industry in the United States—one that can combat climate change while creating good-paying union jobs and ensuring accessible economic opportunities for all communities. At the same time, we know that tribes, states and communities rely on the ocean for their livelihoods and cultural identity, so their input is crucial. We want to advance offshore wind energy development opportunities in a responsible manner—one that avoids or reduces impacts on the environment and existing uses.
NWF: It is important that communities are able to define for themselves the benefits of offshore wind development. This might look like reductions in pollution from closing dirty fossil fuel facilities, investments in workforce training and access to jobs created by this new industry, or support for local industries to adapt to the changes the clean energy transition will bring.
State and federal officials, as well as contracted developers, are responsible for conducting extensive community engagement to be informed and influenced by what they learn, and to ensure that meaningful community benefits reach the people and places that need them.
Stay tuned for part two of the Offshore Wind 101 series. Construction photo courtesy of Deepwater Wind.