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Interior Department Finalizes Rule to Streamline and Modernize Offshore Renewable Energy Development

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

WASHINGTON — Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland today announced that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) have finalized updated regulations for renewable energy development on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).   

The final rule increases certainty and reduces the costs associated with the deployment of offshore wind projects by modernizing regulations, streamlining overly complex processes and removing unnecessary ones, clarifying ambiguous regulatory provisions, and enhancing compliance requirements. BOEM and BSEE have complementary obligations in implementing the offshore wind program.  

Over the next 20 years, the final rule is expected to result in cost savings of roughly $1.9 billion to the offshore wind industry, savings that can be passed onto consumers and used to invest in additional job-creating clean energy projects. 

“I am so proud of the work that the Interior Department is doing to pursue a clean energy future as we build an offshore wind industry from the ground up. As the industry grows and innovates, our regulatory structures must keep pace,” said Secretary Deb Haaland, who announced the final rule today during remarks at the 2024 International Partnering Forum. "By modernizing and updating these regulations, we are paving the way for the safe and efficient deployment of offshore wind projects, providing clarity for developers while continuing to protect important natural and cultural resources." 

During the Biden-Harris administration, the Department has approved the nation's first eight commercial-scale offshore wind projects, with a combined potential of over 10 gigawatts of clean, renewable energy able to power nearly 4 million homes. The Department has also taken steps to grow a sustainable offshore wind industry by encouraging the use of project labor agreements, strengthening workforce training, bolstering a domestic supply chain, and enhancing engagement with Tribes, fisheries, underserved communities and ocean users.

Today’s final rule also includes a process to regularly update a five-year offshore wind leasing schedule. During her remarks today, Secretary Haaland announced a new five-year offshore wind leasing schedule, which includes up to 12 potential offshore wind energy lease sales through 2028. BOEM Director Elizabeth Klein and BSEE Director Kevin Sligh also attended the Forum, outlining their commitment to a clean energy future. 

“This final rule incorporates lessons learned since we first published the offshore renewable energy regulations almost 15 years ago,” said BOEM Director Elizabeth Klein. “It will reduce costs and unnecessary burdens to industry, while ensuring that offshore renewable energy development is done in a safe and environmentally sound manner.” 

“Ensuring clean energy for America while keeping the environment and offshore workers safe is the primary objective of the new rule," said BSEE Director Kevin Sligh. “BSEE aims to establish clear regulations that safeguard all forms of life and the oceans. From implementing a comprehensive safety management system to a well-thought-out Certified Verification Agent process, BSEE will efficiently regulate the production of clean, safe offshore energy for generations to come.” 

Among its provisions, the final rule: 

  • Eliminates unnecessary requirements for the deployment of meteorological buoys 

  • Increases survey flexibility 

  • Improves the facility design, fabrication, and installation certification and verification process 

  • Establishes a public renewable energy leasing schedule 

  • Reforms BOEM’s renewable energy auction regulations 

  • Tailors financial assurance requirements and instruments 

  • Clarifies safety management system regulations 

  • Clarifies and strengthens oversight of critical safety systems and equipment 

Bidenomics and the President’s Investing in America agenda are growing the American economy from the middle out and bottom up – from rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, to driving over half a trillion dollars in new private sector manufacturing and clean energy investments in the United States, to creating good-paying jobs and building a clean energy economy that will combat the climate crisis and make our communities more resilient.

Since 2021, BOEM has held four offshore wind lease auctions – including a record-breaking sale offshore New York and New Jersey and the first-ever sales offshore the Pacific and Gulf coasts. BOEM has also advanced the process to explore additional opportunities for offshore wind energy development in the U.S., including in the Gulf of Maine and offshore Oregon and the U.S. Central Atlantic coast. BOEM manages 34 active commercial offshore wind leases.

BSEE works to promote safety and protect the environment through vigorous regulatory oversight and enforcement and is working to develop technical and safety standards collaboratively with industry and other organizations to ensure a safe and environmentally sound U.S. offshore wind energy industry. In fiscal year 2024, BSEE oversaw the installation and successful start to the operation of the nation’s first two commercial-scale, offshore wind projects. Vineyard Wind 1, located off the coast of Massachusetts, and South Fork Wind, located off the coast of New York, together will comprise 74 turbines combined and provide an estimated output of 930 megawatts, enough clean, renewable energy to power approximately 470,000 homes for at least the next 25 years.  

The notice of the final rule can be viewed in the Federal Register in the coming days.