The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) has announced its intent to assess potential opportunities to advance clean energy development on the Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), as noted in a June 8 DOI statement.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will publish a request for interest (RFI) in the Federal Register on June 11 to assess interest in potential offshore wind development in the OCS. The DOI added that the RFI will focus on the Western and Central Planning Areas of the Gulf of Mexico offshore the states of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama.
While the primary focus of the RFI is on wind energy development, BOEM is also seeking information on other renewable energy technologies, the DOI said.
Once published, the RFI will open a 45-day public comment period to solicit indications of competitive interest and additional information on potential environmental consequences and other uses of the proposed area, the DOI said, adding that BOEM will consider data received in response to the RFI to determine next steps in the renewable energy leasing process in the Gulf of Mexico.
As part of this process, BOEM will convene the Gulf of Mexico Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force to help coordinate planning, solicit feedback, and exchange scientific and process information, the DOI said. Noting that BOEM will hold its first task force meeting on June 15, the DOI said that the task force comprises members representing federal, Tribal, state, and local governments from Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama.
According to the Gulf of Mexico RFI Federal Register Notice posted on the BOEM’s website, the RFI Area comprises the entire Central Planning Area (CPA) and Western Planning Area (WPA) of the Gulf of Mexico, excluding the portions of those areas located in water depths greater than 1,300 meters. The CPA is bounded on the north by the federal-state boundary offshore Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. The document also noted that the eastern boundary of the CPA begins at the offshore boundary between Alabama and Florida and proceeds southeasterly to 26.19˚ N latitude, thence southwesterly to 25.6˚ N latitude. The western boundary of the CPA begins at the offshore boundary between Texas and Louisiana and proceeds southeasterly to 28.43˚ N latitude, thence south-southwesterly to 27.49˚ N latitude, thence south-southeasterly to 25.80˚ N latitude.
The document added that the CPA is bounded on the south by the maritime boundary with Mexico as established by the Treaty between the U.S. government and the Mexico government on the Delimitation of the Continental Shelf in the Western Gulf of Mexico beyond 200 Nautical Miles (U.S.-Mexico Treaty), which took effect in January 2001.
The document noted that the CPA available for possible wind energy leasing consists of about 29 million acres.
The WPA is bounded on the west and north by the federal-state boundary offshore Texas, the document said, adding that the eastern boundary begins at the offshore boundary between Texas and Louisiana and proceeds southeasterly to 28.43˚ N latitude, thence south-southwesterly to 27.49˚ N latitude, thence south-southeasterly to 25.80˚ N latitude.
The WPA is bounded on the south by the maritime boundary with Mexico as established by the U.S.-Mexico Treaty. The document also noted that the WPA available for possible wind energy leasing consists of about 21.5 million acres.
In a separate June 8 statement, Heather Zichal, CEO of the American Clean Power Association, said, in part, “While the Gulf of Mexico has a long history of oil and gas development, this announcement signals new job opportunities for the region, while also helping to meet our nation’s objective of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by the end of this decade.”