Clean Ocean Action

Clean Ocean Advocate, September 2005

Offshore Wind Park Proposal off Jones Beach, NY

     On August 12, COA submitted comments on the Long Island Power Authority’s (LIPA) proposal for 40 wind turbines off Jones Beach, NY, stating, “the application is premature, incomplete, and lacks scientific justification.”  More importantly, the proposal is proceeding without regulations to govern offshore wind development.  No specific criteria, rules, or guidelines exist for the management, monitoring, maintenance, or decommissioning of offshore, ocean-placed wind turbines.  Therefore, in the absence of a regulatory framework, COA is not supportive of the installation of offshore wind energy facilities. 

     Recognizing the lack of any regulatory framework for renewable energy, the new Energy Policy Act signed by US President Bush last month (see article in “Flotsam & Jetsam”) includes sections that require that the US Department of Interior (DOI) to enter into a contract with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to perform a study to evaluate the potential of developing wind, solar, and ocean energy sources.  The study will also assess current federal laws and regulations related to the development of renewable energy, and recommend mechanisms specifically tailored for such development.  However, the Act also allows for discretionary citing of offshore alternative energy projects in the absence of any federal regulations.  The DOI is given the authority to grant a lease, easement, or right of way on the Outer Continental Shelf for renewable energy projects.  The new law defers permitting to DOI, not the US Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE).

     However, should the Army Corps of Engineers proceed without the benefit of the results from the NAS study and the subsequent regulations, COA strongly urged ACOE to require LIPA to prepare a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed project.  An EIS will allow the public to adequately assess the full impacts to the marine environment.  Currently, neither the Public Notice nor the application adequately address effects on the marine environment.  COA’s complete comments are on our website.


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