Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) Director Michael R. Bromwich announced today that BOEMRE has finalized a proposed rule that will eliminate a redundant step in the noncompetitive leasing process for commercial renewable energy development on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf.
"This streamlined approach could cut up to a year off the leasing process for some commercial wind energy projects in the Atlantic," Secretary Salazar said. "It would increase regulatory efficiency without affecting our ability to rigorously review, analyze and monitor projects to assure they are carried out in a safe and environmentally responsible manner."
"This rule eliminates a redundancy in the offshore renewable energy leasing process," Director Bromwich said. "It will make the process more efficient and will shave significant time from the current renewable energy project timetable. It is part of our ongoing effort to eliminate unnecessary delays in the process and encourage commercial offshore wind development."
This action is being taken because of a requirement in the federal offshore renewable energy regulations related to the non-competitive leasing process. Under the current regulations, if BOEMRE initiates the commercial wind leasing process and only one entity responds expressing interest in acquiring a lease in that area, the bureau must still issue a second Federal Register notice request for interest to again ensure there is no competitive interest in that area. This process can take several months, and the bureau determined that it is unnecessary and redundant. The rule announced today eliminates the requirement for the second request for interest and potentially could save up to six to 12 months in the leasing process.
BOEMRE published the proposed rule on February 16, 2011. After careful analysis of the public comments received, the bureau determined it could move forward to finalize the rule. The final rule will be effective June 15, 2011.
The rule will make BOEMRE's leasing processes more streamlined and efficient while maintaining the bureau's obligations to notify the public of areas that may be leased, to solicit public input regarding those areas and to determine whether there is competitive interest in acquiring leases in those areas.
The notice is available for public inspection today on the Federal Register website at: http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/public-inspection/index.html. All comments received on this rule are available for viewing on: http://www.regulations.gov/#!searchResults;rpp=10;po=0;s=BOEM-2010-0045.