- Define goals for environmental assessments of marine wind energy projects in New York
- Develop a research plan for wildlife and marine wind energy in New York State
Currently there are no commercial offshore wind
farms in New York, but in the future a wind farm
like this one in the Netherlands could be built in
New York's oceans.
There is growing interest in developing marine wind energy in New York and elsewhere. However, it is still unclear what impacts such development could have on wildlife, including birds, bats, sea turtles, fish, and marine mammals. In an effort to help regulators and developers respond to permitting needs, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI; www.briloon.org) are conducting a two phase project to help define the goals of environmental assessments and identify priorities for future research on offshore wind energy and wildlife.
The first phase is organized as a series of mock pre-permitting meetings for a fictitious offshore wind project in New York’s federal waters (e.g., >3 miles from shore), and will be focused on understanding site-specific information needs for the state and federal permitting processes. For example, what types of information are needed from the federal agency that leases offshore lands for development (the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management) or from an offshore wind energy developer in order to satisfy the requirements of the Endangered Species Act, or New York’s Environmental Conservation Law? Since there has never been an offshore wind energy development in New York before, there are uncertainties about how state and federal regulations are likely to be applied.
The second project phase will focus on broader wildlife and marine wind energy information gaps and research needs for New York State marine waters, such as the identification of species that are likely to be most vulnerable to offshore wind energy development. This phase is likely to include one or more brainstorming meetings in which regulators and biological experts identify major gaps in our current knowledge and propose future studies to fill these gaps.
- Preliminary Goals Document for Wildlife and Marine Wind Energy Environmental Assessments in New York State
- New York State Marine Wind/Wildlife Environmental Research Plan
- Related communications and outreach documents to assist with dissemination of project results
Participants involved with the first project goal (developing the preliminary goals document) will participate in web-based meetings and contribute towards development of the first project deliverable. These participants may choose to continue their involvement in the project during later project phases, or may choose to participate solely in a single project phase.
The committee for the first project phase is comprised of federal and New York state regulators with expertise in the legal framework and science around offshore wind and wildlife:
- New York Department of State
- New York Department of Environmental Conservation
- New York Attorney General’s Office
- New York State Energy Research and Development Authority
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
- Biodiversity Research Institute
In addition to steering committee members, participants in the web-based meetings for the first project phase are made up of additional regulators and legal experts with expertise on the state and federal regulations most relevant to offshore wind and wildlife issues. Second phase participants are also expected to include biologists with relevant taxonomic expertise.
Advisory groups are formulated of stakeholders who will provide input on project deliverables. The three advisory groups will be comprised of offshore wind energy developers; environmental consultants who are involved with offshore wind energy permitting processes; and environmental non-governmental organizations who are engaged on the topic of offshore wind energy and its potential effects on wildlife. Advisory group members will provide input prior to the web-based meetings about regulatory and information needs for environmental monitoring. For example, they may be asked to identify the primary regulatory challenges facing the industry in relation to pre- and post-construction environmental monitoring; how Coastal Zone Management Act consistency reviews have applied to offshore wind projects in other states; and what species or habitats they believe to have the highest risk of being adversely affected by offshore wind energy development. BRI will synthesize the groups’ input into written documents that will be distributed to meeting participants. Group members will also review the draft Goals Document and Research Plan. The advisory group members will not be authors of the documents, but will be acknowledged in the final documents. Individual advisory group members can choose to be named in project documents or to remain anonymous.
The first project phase is expected to be completed in early 2014.
For more information, contact:
Kate Williams or Wing Goodale, BRI Project Managers
Gregory Lampman, NYSERDA Senior Project Manager