The federal government has determined that the process for evaluating ocean sites in New York City and New Jersey for offshore wind power projects will not cause significant harm to the environment.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced Thursday that it had completed an environmental review of the types of activities required to study offshore wind sites.
The review only covers the investigative phase of wind projects. This includes biological, geological, and geophysical surveys, core samples taken from the ocean floor, and the placement of meteorological buoys.
It is not intended as a final approval for individual wind turbine projects. This will have to happen separately for each development.
However, it allows developers to continue planning ambitious offshore wind project in the area, known the New York Bight.
“BOEM is focused on ensuring that any development in the New York Bight is done responsibly and in a way that avoids or minimizes impacts to the ocean and other ocean users in the region,” the agency’s director Amanda Lefton said in a statement.
New Jersey is aggressively attempting to be the East Coast’s offshore-wind center. It has approved three offshore projects so far, while many others are in the planning stage.
The three projects will produce enough electricity to power over 1.5 million homes. New Jersey has set a goal to generate 100% of its energy from renewable sources by 2050 and plans to solicit additional wind energy projects every 2 years until at least 2028.
The federal government has set a goal of approving enough offshore wind projects nationwide by 2030 to produce 30 gigawatts of electricity — enough to power 10 million homes.
The environmental study covered several areas, including benthic creatures, which are creatures that live on the ocean floor, commercial and recreational fishing, finfish, invertebrates, and essential fish habitat, marine mammals, and sea turtles. In each instance, the agency determined that the process of investigating the sites’ suitability for offshore wind development would not cause significant harm.