Posts Tagged ‘Offshore Wind’

This comment from Save LBI (Long Beach Island, NJ) on BOEM’s Renewable Energy Modernization Rule (proposed) highlights an important regulatory policy consideration:

Promoting the offshore wind program is a very high BOEM priority. The bureau is charged with deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030, which requires extensive advocacy. However, BOEM is also a core regulator for offshore wind projects, and the concern is that their regulatory role could be compromised by their advocacy priorities.

Per Notice to Lessees 2023 N-01, which arguably should have been published for public comment given its regulatory significance, BOEM has retained important responsibilities for wind project development and operations. These include review and approval of construction and operations plans, site assessment plans, and general activities plans. BOEM may also exercise enforcement authority through the issuance of violation notices and the assessment of civil penalties.

BOEM exists because in 2010 the Administration wanted to separate the OCS program’s leasing (sales/advocacy) and safety (regulatory/enforcement) functions. The intent was to avoid conflicting missions (or the appearance thereof) in the post-Macondo era. (More on this in an upcoming post.)

Ironically, the Save LBI comment describes BSEE as “a distinct unit within BOEM.” That may seem to be the case, but BSEE is actually a separate bureau in the Department of the Interior.

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Presentations from the January 2023 HSAC meeting have now been posted. None of the presentations addresses the tragic crash in the Gulf of Mexico on 29 December. This is understandable given the ongoing investigation.

Attached is an update from the Helideck Committee which also addresses wind farm issues.

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While it’s highly unlikely that wind turbine siting activities are responsible for the alarming number of whale deaths, some of the vociferous wind industry defenders would have been among the first to point the finger at oil and gas operations if there were any in the US Atlantic.

Some quotes from a recent USA Today article followed by BOE comments:

It’s just a cynical disinformation campaign,” said Greenpeace’s oceans director John Hocevar. “It doesn’t seem to worry them that it’s not based in any kind of evidence.” (Comment: World class chutzpah on the part of Greenpeace, the master of disinformation.)

Gib Brogan, a campaign director with Oceana, an international ocean advocacy group, said those opposed to wind power are using a spate of whale deaths in the area as an opportunity. (Comment: Does Oceana suddenly find this type of opportunism to be shocking?)

Groups opposed to clean energy projects spread baseless misinformation that has been debunked by scientists and experts,” said JC Sandberg, chief advocacy officer with the American Clean Power Association, a renewable energy trade group. (Comments: Use of the term “clean energy” is clever advocacy that serves to discredit other forms of energy. All energy sources have pros and cons, environmentally and otherwise. Wind and solar have significant visual, space preemption, navigation, wildlife risk, and intermittency issues, and are heavily dependent on subsidies and mandates. When all issues are considered, one could argue, as we have, that offshore gas, particularly nonassociated gas, is perhaps the environmentally preferred energy alternative.)

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Liz is an experienced attorney and leader in clean energy, climate change, and environmental law and policy. A member of the Biden-Harris administration since January 20, 2021, Liz has served as Senior Counselor to Secretary Haaland with an emphasis on water policy and climate change resilience. In this role, Liz also served as Chair of the Indian Water Rights Working Group, which manages, negotiates and implements settlements of water rights claims.

Prior to joining the Administration, Liz was Deputy Director of the non-partisan State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at NYU School of Law, which supports state Attorneys General addressing clean energy, climate, and environmental initiatives of regional and national importance. President Biden is the third President under which Liz has served at Interior, having worked for both the Clinton and Obama administrations. Under Secretaries Ken Salazar and Sally Jewell, Liz served as Interior’s Associate Deputy Secretary as well as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Policy, Management and Budget. She was a key architect of the Obama Administration’s work to create a new offshore wind industry and leasing program.


Congratulations to Ms. Klein on being appointed to lead the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. In addition to her commendable support for offshore wind energy, I trust that she appreciates the national importance of the OCS oil and gas program and the need for regular lease sales.

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“Mom” (US govt) strongly and openly favors one child (offshore wind) over the other (offshore oil and gas). As a result, beneficial family synergy is not realized, and neither “child” reaches her full potential.

The wind program was intended to complement the oil and gas program, not replace it.

These articles highlight some of the challenges facing offshore wind:

  • WSJ: Soaring Costs Threaten U.S. Offshore-Wind Buildout
  • Bloomberg: US Ignored Own Scientists’ Warning in Backing Atlantic Wind Farm
  • NJ.com: Offshore wind is on N.J.’s horizon but activists worry of impact to whales, economy, the view

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Despite the spectacular 2022 lease sales, not all is rosy for US offshore wind development.

In 2011, then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the Obama administration had set a goal of “10 gigawatts of offshore wind generating capacity by 2020 and 54 gigawatts by 2030.” How has that worked? Well, 11 years after Salazar’s speech, the US has seven turbines operating offshore with a total of capacity of 42 megawatts — or some 9,958 megawatts short of the goal laid out by Salazar.

Gordon Hughes, a professor of economics at the University of Edinburgh, has found that the output of Europe’s offshore wind turbines has been declining by about 4.5% per year. In a report titled “Wind Power Economics: Rhetoric and Reality,” published by the London-based Renewable Energy Foundation in 2020, Hughes concluded that declining output will result in higher operating costs that will start to exceed revenues “after 12 or 15 years.


Opposition to NJ offshore wind projects dominate DEP hearing

addressing climate change through ocean “industrialization” using an “inefficient, expensive and largely untested strategy” was not the right path forward – Kari Martin, Clean Ocean Action

“By undertaking an industrialization project this big, it far outweighs any (climate change) benefit anybody’s ever talked about, or even tried to quantify,” he said. “The harms of this undertaking is, in my view, far worse than any benefits we could realize.” – Michael Dean, Middletown, NJ

Offshore Wind Farms Change Marine Ecosystems

In their latest publication, (scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon) now show that large-scale wind farms can strongly influence marine primary production as well as the oxygen levels in and beyond the wind farm areas. Their results were published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment.

… For example, Nils Christiansen’s team proved that wake turbulences—air vortices caused by wind turbines—change the flow and stratification of the water beneath them. But the climate just above the sea surface is also being permanently changed, as another team led by Dr. Naveed Akhtar was able to show.


Annual mean response of net primary productions (netPP) to atmospheric changes due to offshore wind farms


Commonwealth Wind project paused indefinitely

Park City Wind project delayed

RODA files a motion for a summary judgement in its lawsuit over approval of the Vineyard Wind 1 project, touted as the nation’s first commercial scale offshore project.

Discouraging Spectator article on UK onshore wind.

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Final text

  • The flaring provision complicates compliance and may increase safety risks: (p. 649) Exception 1 exempts “gas vented or flared for not longer than 48 hours in an emergency situation that poses a danger to human health, safety, or the environment.” This is inconsistent with the carefully constructed BSEE regulations which allow limited (48 hours cumulative) flaring for certain operations (e.g. during the unloading or cleaning of a well, drill-stem testing, production testing, and other well-evaluation testing). Such flaring is essential but not normally “an emergency situation.” The bill could thus compromise safety by unnecessarily restricting or complicating well operations and by limiting flaring in circumstances where such flaring reduces safety risks.
  • Time for BOEM to get to work 😉: (p. 650): Per our previous post, the highlight section of the bill (from an offshore oil and gas standpoint) reinstates Lease Sale 257 (GoM) and requires that the scheduled 2022 lease sales 258 (GoM) and 259 (Cook Inlet) be held by 12/31/2022. Lease Sale 261 (GoM) must be held by 9/30/2023.
  • Petty but perhaps necessary: p. 655: The provision restricting wind leasing when no oil and gas lease sale has been held in the prior year is in the final bill.

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When we (MMS) drafted the OCSLA amendments (incorporated into the Energy Policy Act of 2005) that authorized offshore wind operations, we envisioned complementary and synergistic programs. Offshore wind and oil/gas development have many similarities and a common purpose – energy production. There is considerable overlap among the operating companies and contractors.

Unfortunately, politicians are better at dividing than uniting, and a provision in the Schumer-Manchin legislation pits the offshore wind and oil/gas programs against each other. The text (pasted below) from p. 646 of the bill restricts wind leasing when no oil and gas lease sale has been held in the prior year.

I share the concerns about the OCS program evolving into a wind-only program, as has already happened in the Atlantic (more on this at a later date). However, oil and gas sales should be held because they make economic and environmental sense, not because they are a condition for holding wind sales. Oil and gas sales are not punishment and wind sales are not rewards, and holding a single GoM lease sale each year does not balance the offshore program.

(b) LIMITATION ON ISSUANCE OF CERTAIN LEASES OR RIGHTS-OF-WAY.—During the 10-year period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act—

(2) the Secretary may not issue a lease for offshore wind development under section 8(p)(1)(C) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (43 U.S.C.1337(p)(1)(C)) unless—
(A) an offshore lease sale has been held during the 1-year period ending on the date of the issuance of the lease for offshore wind development; and (B) the sum total of acres offered for lease in offshore lease sales during the 1-year period ending on the date of the issuance of the lease for offshore wind development is not less than 60,000,000 acres.

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On October 19, 2021, RODA issued the government agencies a 60-day Notice of its Intent to Sue if they did not comply with the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, and other federal environmental statutes. “The Alliance received no reply, and the environmental violations were not remedied,” Hawkins stated. “The decisions on this project didn’t balance ocean resource conservation and management, and must not set a precedent for the enormous “pipeline of projects” the government plans to facilitate in the near term. So we had no alternative to filing suit.”

Responsible Offshore Development Alliance

Vineyard Wind 1 is a 62-turbine offshore wind project to be built 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard, and is the first commercial-scale wind project approved for US offshore waters.

download here

Of particular interest to the offshore industry, RODA’s court filing raises concerns about the structural integrity of the 13 MW Haliade-X turbines during Atlantic hurricanes, ice shedding in the winter, radar interference, pile driving noise, Jones Act violations, and failure to consider decommissioning issues.

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The judge correctly dismissed the unfounded claim that new oil and gas leasing would preclude wind development in the Gulf. BOE comments:

  • The number of GoM platforms is down 75% from its peak and continuing to decline.
  • Most new production is in the deepwater GoM and is accomplished with very few, remote and widely dispersed facilities. There are currently only 57 deepwater platforms across the entire Gulf.
  • The wind industry appreciates the synergy between offshore oil and gas and offshore wind operations. Indeed the oil industry has been very supportive of offshore wind, and some of the same operating companies and contractors are major players in both industries.
  • t has been 17 years since the enabling legislation was passed, yet we are still awaiting the first commercial wind project in the US Atlantic. You can’t blame the oil and gas industry for that delay. To the contrary, one can make the case that the presence of oil and gas operations would have accelerated Atlantic wind development.
  • The enabling legislation for offshore wind was drafted by the agency that managed the offshore oil and gas program and recognized the compatibility of oil and wind development. Wind development is clearly a high priority for BOEM, the current OCS land manager.

Will the Administration appeal the court decision to vacate the lease sale or does the decision assist them by reinstating their leasing pause? How will the conflict between the DC court decision and the injunction invalidating the leasing pause (Federal Court for the Western District of Louisiana) be resolved?

What does this mean for the 94 leases that were to have been acquired for carbon sequestration purposes? Will BOEM have a proper CCS sale after conducting an environmental assessment, determining bidding terms and evaluation criteria, and publishing a Notice of Sale? Or will there be a legislative end run that authorizes the issuance of the leases without these steps?

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