Offshore Wind Energy Environmental Services


Offshore wind farms are gaining ground as a source of renewable energy in the United States. Applicants developing such projects must seek approval from the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), initially to assess impacts of wind energy leasing and site assessment, then to assess impacts of installation, operation, and decommissioning as farms move toward implementation. To inform BOEM’s approval process, Confluence provides documentation to satisfy regulatory requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act (ESA), Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), and Fish & Wildlife Coordination Act (FWCA).

Approach

Confluence is supporting BOEM with NEPA, ESA, MSA, and FWCA processes for wind farm permitting on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) in federal waters where most wind farms are being proposed. Proposed projects  include onshore portions and elements located in state territorial waters.

Confluence provides the following analyses and documents:

  • Resource sections of NEPA environmental impact statements (EIS). Confluence assesses impacts to, and prepares EIS sections for, Benthic Habitat, Invertebrates, Finfish, Marine Mammals, Sea Turtles, Essential Fish Habitat, Land Use, and Other Marine Uses.
  • Biological assessments (BAs) for both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to meet ESA requirements. These documents assess potential direct and indirect effects on ESA-listed marine mammals, sea turtles, fish, birds, and bats from construction, operation, and decommissioning of the proposed project.
  • Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) assessments for NMFS to satisfy requirements of the MSA. The EFH analysis examines potential project impacts to federally managed fish.
  • Under the FWCA, BOEM must assess potential impacts to NOAA Fisheries Trust Resources.

These documents examine the proposed project timeline including construction, years of operation, and conceptual decommissioning of the wind energy facilities. Project construction and operation considerations include noise, physical placement and installation of project infrastructure, wind turbines, vessel movements, artificial light, electromagnetic fields, and elevations in temperature. The analyses also examine effects to factors important for managed species to thrive, including water quality parameters and substrate.

Conclusions

Confluence’s technically sound analyses and excellent working relationships with regulatory agencies helps successfully move projects through the NEPA, ESA, MSA, and FWCA processes.

Project Location
Outer Continental Shelf of the United States

Client
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

Project Timeline
Ongoing since 2008