New Bedford - Vineyard Wind released the following statement today about ongoing discussions with the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) on the project’s federal Environmental Impact Statement:
“Vineyard Wind has met with officials from the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and learned that BOEM is continuing its review of the potential impacts of the project before releasing the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).
Vineyard Wind notes that it is not unusual for there to be ongoing review of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as it makes its way through the internal approval process, especially for a project of this significance. The National Environmental Policy Act requires an EIS to consider all best available information, which we believe BOEM has done. We are therefore confident that any remaining reviews can be concluded and an FEIS released soon after.
Through all of our communications with government officials, it has been made clear to us that there was no intention to prevent the Vineyard Wind 1 project from moving forward. Vineyard Wind has communicated to BOEM that for a variety of reasons, it would be very challenging to move forward the Vineyard Wind 1 project in its current configuration if the final EIS is not issued within, approximately, the next four to six weeks. BOEM has indicated they understand the reasons for this constraint and will communicate this to the Secretary of the Interior, who is responsible for final action on this project. Vineyard Wind has also communicated to the Secretary directly about its concerns regarding the delay.
Many stakeholders ranging from business organizations, small business owners, local construction unions, project area residents, and elected officials from all levels of government have reached out to us in recent days to reaffirm their support for the Vineyard Wind project. This broad support has only increased our already high level of commitment, and confidence in the timely completion of this important energy project.”
Project Permitting Background
The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) requires federal agencies to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate the potential impacts of a proposed project on its surrounding environment to inform its regulatory decisions. The Vineyard Wind project EIS provides a baseline for understanding the potential consequences of the project by identifying positive and negative impacts on the environment and discussing potential measures to mitigate impacts.
The EIS is part of Vineyard Wind’s comprehensive public and regulatory review process that involves evaluation by more than 25 federal, state, and local regulatory bodies, including the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Army Corps of Engineers, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, the Cape Cod Commission, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, and local conservation commissions. To date, Vineyard Wind has received permits or approvals from the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB), an independent state board responsible for review of proposed large energy facilities, the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act office, the Cape Cod Commission, the Barnstable Conservation Commission, the Martha’s Vineyard Conservation Commission, and the Nantucket Conservation Commission. The project has also received a policy consistency determination from the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council.
In April, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities approved long-term power purchase contracts between Vineyard Wind and Massachusetts’ electric distribution companies (EDCs) for the delivery of clean offshore wind energy. Vineyard Wind has entered into a Host Community Agreement with the Town of Barnstable, and a Community Benefits Agreement with the non-profit energy cooperative Vineyard Power, which serves Martha’s Vineyard. Fishing representatives for the project include the New Bedford Port Authority, the Massachusetts Lobsterman’s Association, and the Martha’s Vineyard Fishermen’s Preservation Trust.