Offshore Wind DEIS: The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced, on Jan. 8, the availability of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the South Fork Wind Farm and the South Fork Export Cable Project. The DEIS analyzes “reasonably foreseeable effects from the construction, operation and maintenance, and eventual decommissioning of up to 15 wind turbine generators, an offshore substation and inter-array cables in lease area OCS–A 0517, and the installation of an export cable from the lease area to Suffolk County, Long Island.” The Notice starts a public comment period lasting until Feb 22. And BOEM gives notice of three virtual public meetings: Feb. 9, 11, and 16.
Major Federal Infrastructure: The Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council voted to add mining as a sector with infrastructure projects eligible for coverage under Title 41 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST–41). The Permitting Council includes cabinet-level representatives from 13 federal agencies. It works to coordinate and expedite the procedural moves required for complex federal projects requiring federal permits. The Council’s work does not allow any shortcuts for standard environmental reviews or public process and participation. The Council made the proposal to include mining in a Federal Register notice on Nov. 27. It received 6,487 comments – mostly in opposition. The Council concluded though that most of these comments were off-base and did not reflect an accurate understanding of the Council’s role and that its mission extends to projects well beyond transportation. The decision was effective January 8.
Texas – Deepwater Port: One project at the top of the charts in the federal docket system is the Texas Gulflink Deepwater Port project. This would allow construction and operation of an oil export deepwater port in the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 26 nautical miles off Brazoria County, TX. The project has been in the public’s eye for a number of years. A draft EIS was released in November and is open for comment until later this month. So far, for all of the documents, not just the EIS, the project has received 1,788 public comments. MARAD held two virtual public meetings in December. The Deepwater Port Act was passed in 1974. MARAD writes that Congress supported deepwater port developments because such distant ports could keep very large cargo vessels outside of more densely congested facilities and waterways, thereby decreasing risks to marine and coastal environments.
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