Today, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) sent a letter to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) urging the agency to continue to adopt policies for the offshore wind leasing and permitting process that bring fishermen and other marine stakeholders into the conversation early in order to minimize spatial conflicts and reduce the risk of economic harm to the fishing industry.
As wind developers lease areas in federal waters for the first time, the Senators contend that existing stakeholders must be thoroughly consulted both before and after leases are granted. In their letter, the Senators point to Island’s success fostering collaborative and meaningful engagement, proving that offshore wind and other marine industries can operate in harmony. The Senators note that while BOEM has tried to improve communication between the fishing industry and wind developers, many of their constituents consider the existing efforts to be ineffective.
“Our states understand that smart planning and consultation with stakeholders, particularly the fishing industry, will allow offshore wind to flourish in the United States, protect important ocean resources, and maintain access for existing users,” write the Senators in their letter to BOEM Acting Director Dr. Walter Cruickshank.
A copy of the letter can be found below.
In their letter, the Senators ask the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to respond to questions that include:
- Which types of location-specific data BOEM used before leases are granted to understand where fishermen fish and transit?
- Has BOEM used fishing location data from the Northeast Regional Data Portal to inform lease areas in the northeast, before and after leases were granted?
- At what points in the offshore wind siting and leasing process, from call to , does BOEM use fishing location information to inform lease locations?
- For the projects that are beyond the leasing stage, please what are the avenues for the public to provide feedback, including through comment periods, listening sessions tied to environmental reviews, and other approvals?
- How has BOEM consulted with NOAA Fisheries to identify which ports are most affected by individual leases?