Federal Offshore Wind Public Participation Guide
Offshore wind promises to supply large amounts of clean energy to America’s largest cities and coastal regions while launching tens of thousands of new careers and generating new investments in coastal infrastructure. Even so, all infrastructure development has unintended impacts, and members of other ocean industries and coastal communities have made it clear they want a say in the offshore wind development process. Those opportunities exist, but the process is sometimes opaque.
To that end, SIOW and AWEA partnered to produce a new guide designed to highlight public participation opportunities in the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (housed within the U.S. Department of the Interior) regulatory process that governs the leasing of areas on the Outer Continental Shelf for renewable energy development.
View the full guide here:
Federal Offshore Wind Participation Guide
State Offshore Wind Public Participation Guides
State policies support robust public participation opportunities for comments and questions relevant to offshore wind development. However, each state handles offshore wind regulations differently, and the complex, interwoven nature of these policies can make them confusing to members of the public. SIOW developed these State Public Participation Guides to provide a clearer picture of the public participation opportunities associated with state permitting processes for offshore wind development.
View the full guides here:
Ways To Get Involved
Public Comment Period
Allows interested parties, including the public, opportunities to provide formal written comments on permits, certifications, and other state regulatory actions for proposed offshore wind development projects. Comments are accepted via email or mail, and in some cases, written requests for a public hearing may be accepted.
Allows the state regulatory agency to engage in additional fact-finding meetings and for interested parties, including the public, opportunities to provide oral comments and voice concerns regarding proposed activities. A public hearing may be requested in writing during the formal comment period.
Public Participation Opportunities in State Offshore Wind Processes
Federal Consistency Review Process
Under the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), states with coastal zone management programs have review authority for proposed federal actions or federal license or permit applications, including those for offshore wind, that have reasonably foreseeable effects on the state’s coastal uses or resources. Per this authority, the state agency that oversees its Coastal Zone Management program reviews such proposed federal activities for consistency with the state’s enforceable coastal management policies.
All planned offshore wind projects are currently located within federal waters on the Outer Continental Shelf. A state’s review authority applies to federal activities within the state’s coastal zone or in federal waters beyond the state’s jurisdiction if such activities may have reasonably foreseeable effects on the state’s coastal uses and resources. The state provides public participation opportunities through its federal consistency review process pursuant to the CZMA.
Other State Approvals and Permits
These state permits and approvals only apply if a portion of an offshore wind project, such as an export cable, falls within state lands or jurisdictional waters. Each approval and permit serves a different purpose in ensuring the conservation of a state’s natural resources for the benefit of the public. Each state handles offshore wind regulations differently, so the state approvals and permits required for an offshore wind project vary from state to state.
It is at the discretion of the offshore wind developer as to the timing of submitting the applications for these permits and approvals as they must navigate both federal and state processes while weighing other project considerations. Following application submission for a permit or approval, a public notice that the application is available for public review will typically be posted. For some permits or approvals, the presiding state agency may hold a public meeting, or members of the public may request one during the public comment period.