A framework for offshore renewable energy

Cymie posted here about the hearings Interior recently held in on both coasts on offshore energy development of all stripes. True to the President’s commitment to making renewable energy development a priority, shortly after those hearings Interior’s Minerals Management Service offshore-windfarmfinalized regulations governing renewable energy development on the outer continental shelf. The regulations, developed under the authority of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, set out the terms on which leases, easements, and rights-of-way across the federal outer continental shelf will be granted for renewable energy projects.

The new regulations clear up at least some of the regulatory ambiguity that has plagued such projects. Of course many questions remain, including how federal OCS approvals will interface with state regulation of near-shore lands.

The rules were developed primarily with offshore wind in mind. A number of projects are already in various stages of development off the Atlantic Coast, the best known being Cape Wind, which has an application pending. MMS and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have also entered into a Memorandum of Understanding clarifying their respective authorities with respect to wave and ocean current energy, which had been the subject of a bureaucratic tussle. Wave energy projects on the OCS will need both a lease from MMS and a FERC license.

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Reader Comments

2 Replies to “A framework for offshore renewable energy”

  1. Here in the UK, a lot of renewable projects have been blocked or held up by planning authorities. Wind turbines got themselves a bad reputation here in the UK as the early ones were extremely noisy: the UK was an early adopter of the technology back in the 1980s and because of that, a lot of people are very strongly against more wind turbines now.

    I can understand that – if I lived within a couple of miles of one of the earlier wind turbines with their constant droning noise, I’d be against them too.

    But the latest turbines are virtually silent and a lot better environmentally than those early efforts. And they look better too: the early turbines looked ugly and the high speed turbines meant that the sunlight shining through them flickered quite uncomfortably: if you lived or worked nearby one, they really weren’t very nice things at all.

    Now adays, wind turbines look graceful – some would say beautiful – and the law has to be updated in order to reflect that these turbines are both desireable and necessary. It’s time to allow more of these ‘gentle giants’ to grace our world.

  2. Early adopters always pay a price. I agree though, I’d love to be a little ways from a wind farm and be able to see it. I think they look cool!

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About Holly

Holly Doremus is the James H. House and Hiram H. Hurd Professor of Environmental Regulation at UC Berkeley. Doremus brings a strong background in life sciences and a comm…

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