The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is considering a lease sale for the Wilmington East Wind Energy Area, or WEA, offshore of the North Carolina-South Carolina border.
BOEM is preparing a supplemental environmental assessment to consider the additional wind leasing options for the area. The agency said Friday it will accept comment for the next 30 days ending at 11:59 p.m. Sept. 12.
To comment and for a copy of the 2015 environmental assessment, visit https://www.boem.gov/renewable-energy/state-activities/north-carolina-activities.
“Environmental reviews are essential to a strong resource management program,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton in a statement. “At BOEM, scientific based decision-making remains a top priority and will inform the path forward offshore the Carolinas. We welcome and appreciate your input into this process.”
The supplemental assessment is to consider new information relevant to environmental considerations that were not available when BOEM published the Commercial Wind Lease Issuance and Site Assessment Activities on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf Offshore North Carolina – Revised Environmental Assessment in 2015.
As part of this public process, BOEM said it is seeking input on additional information, issues and alternatives to be considered in the supplemental assessment.
BOEM’s 2015 assessment considered the lease sale of the Kitty Hawk Wind Energy Area, as well as the Wilmington East and West WEAs. Officials said that BOEM found at the time that no reasonably foreseeable significant impacts were expected as a result of the proposed lease sales or any of the alternatives in the environmental assessment.
BOEM held in 2017 an auction for the Kitty Hawk WEA and is now considering a lease sale for the Wilmington East WEA. The supplemental environmental review evaluates new circumstances and information relevant to reasonably foreseeable environmental impacts that would occur from site characterization activities such as shallow hazards, surveys of the lease area and potential cable routes as well as site assessment activities including installation and operation of meteorological buoys associated with issuing wind energy leases in the Wilmington East WEA.
Some of the new information includes a recent marine cultural resources survey, changes in the status of some Endangered Species Act-listed species, the listing of new species, and the designation of critical habitat for the North Atlantic right whale.