advancement, financial incentives, and policy concerns have driven a global expansion
in the development of renewable energy resources. Wind energy, in particular,
is often cited as one of the fastest-growing commercial energy sources in
the world. Currently, all U.S. wind energy facilities are based on land.
However, multiple offshore projects have been proposed and are at various
stages of the federal permitting process.
The United States has the authority to permit and regulate offshore wind energy
development within the zones of the oceans under its jurisdiction. The
federal government and coastal states each have roles in the permitting
process, the extents of which depend on whether the project is located in
state or federal waters. Currently, no single federal agency has exclusive
responsibility for permitting related to activities on submerged lands in
federal waters; authority is allocated among various agencies based on the
nature of the resource to be exploited and the potential impacts
incidental to such exploitation. The same is true for the offshore wind energy
context, where several federal agencies have a role to play in permitting
development and operation activities.
Section 388 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct; P.L. 109-58) amended the
Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) to address previous
uncertainties regarding offshore wind projects. This provision retained a
role for the Army Corps of Engineers in permitting under the Rivers and
Harbors Act but grants ultimate authority over offshore wind energy development
to the Secretary of the Interior. The statutory authority granted by
Section 388 is administered by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
(BOEM), an agency within the Department of the Interior (DOI). Since the
passage of EPAct, BOEM has promulgated rules and guidelines governing the permitting
and operation of offshore wind facilities.
Date of Report: October 17, 2012
Number of Pages: 15 Order Number: R40175 Price: $29.95
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