MOU increases NOAA role in regulation of ocean energy
Last week, the U.S. Department of Interior and the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that they have signed a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Coordination and Collaboration Regarding Outer Continental Shelf Energy Development and Environmental Stewardship (May 19, 2011). Through the agreement, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) intend to improve decision making related to ocean energy development, by improving use of science and expertise to fulfill the agency’s stewardship duties and to conserve the living marine resources and the ecosystems upon which they depend. While the agreement does not alter legal responsibilities, it implements, in part, the agency responsibilities pursuant to the Endangered Species Act. Notably, NOAA representatives will be working with BOEMRE on environmental analyses earlier in the regulatory process, the agencies will hold quarterly meetings of senior leadership officials to discuss ocean energy and related policy and scientific issues, and they expect to work together on safety issues and oil spill prevention and response efforts.
The Cape Wind project proposed for the Nantucket shoals would be the first offshore wind farm in the United States. The wind farm would consist of 130 turbines and would generate 420 megawatts of power, nearly equivalent to the peak load for the Cape and Islands. Working with BOEMRE's predecessor agency, the Minerals Management Service, NOAA approved abiological opinionfor the project in November 2008. For more information, visit CapeWind.org