Ocean Currents » Bureau of Ocean Energy Management http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Fri, 21 Apr 2017 20:52:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Northeast Moves Closer To a Draft Ocean Plan and an Opportunity to Urge Action http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/12/03/northeast-moves-closer-to-a-draft-ocean-plan-and-an-opportunity-to-urge-action/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/12/03/northeast-moves-closer-to-a-draft-ocean-plan-and-an-opportunity-to-urge-action/#comments Thu, 03 Dec 2015 16:29:39 +0000 Amy Trice http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=11156

The Northeast Regional Planning Body (RPB), a collaboration among federal, state, and tribal partners along with other ocean users, is leading the nation in ocean planning efforts. Four years after its creation, a draft plan covering ocean and coastal waters from Connecticut to Maine is set for release in March 2016.  This will be the United States’ first region-wide ocean plan, and a model for smarter approaches to managing our ocean.

In late October, the Northeast RPB hosted a stakeholder forum at the University of New Hampshire to gather feedback from a variety of ocean users regarding the outline of the draft ocean plan, prior to more detailed discussions with RPB member agencies at the November 16-17th RPB meeting. Both meetings brought together members of the public, industry, government, and tribes, seeking input on work products and guidance moving forward.  RPB members used these meetings to update the public on their work over the summer and provided insight into the work products that will progress over the winter in advance of the draft plan release in March.

Overview of Recent Northeast Ocean Planning Activities

Key Materials Released:

Key materials were released ahead of the November meeting in Portland, Maine.  Of particular importance are the draft of best practices for agency coordination and the components of important ecological areas.

October 20: Stakeholder Forum

A key principle of ocean planning is strong engagement of regional ocean users and local citizens. Continuing their effort to provide a platform for effective engagement, the Northeast RPB hosted a stakeholder forum where topics of discussion included the draft ocean plan outline and the ecosystem-based management work group.  Valuable input was heard on the potential approaches and substance of the plan implementation and the science and research priorities of the draft plan.

November 16-17: RPB meeting

Building on the Stakeholder Forum, the November RPB meeting discussed the progress on data and agency early coordination actions; reviewed options and next steps for plan performance, monitoring, and ocean health indicators; outlined science and research priorities; discussed future responsibilities and commitments of the RPB; and, provided an opportunity for public input on the ocean plan.

Opportunity:  Support Ocean Planning and Offshore Wind

The federal agency in charge of making offshore wind a reality, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), is a co-lead in developing the Northeast ocean plan. BOEM also recently asked the public how it can do a better job permitting offshore wind.

The answer? Make ocean planning a fundamental part of the way we plan for offshore wind.  By the end of 2016, regional ocean plans will be complete in both the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions and we will have the opportunity to put them into action planning smarter for offshore wind.

Ask BOEM to utilize these plans as a key component of its offshore renewable energy program by signing our petition.

Mid-Atlantic Ocean Planning Continues

Like the Northeast, the Mid-Atlantic RPB is deep into the process of crafting an ocean plan for the region.  The Mid-Atlantic is several months behind the Northeast in its process, but aims to have a draft plan released by June 2016. As the release of these regional ocean plans draws closer, we look forward to reviewing and supporting their continued progress.

We’ll continue to keep you updated on the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic here.

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/12/03/northeast-moves-closer-to-a-draft-ocean-plan-and-an-opportunity-to-urge-action/feed/ 1
Stand Against Risky Oil Drilling in the Arctic Ocean http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/12/11/stand-against-risky-oil-drilling-in-the-arctic-ocean/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/12/11/stand-against-risky-oil-drilling-in-the-arctic-ocean/#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 15:13:20 +0000 Whit Sheard http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9611 Arctic sea ice

© Corbis. All rights reserved.

If we don’t act now, the U.S. government could open up more Arctic waters to exploratory drilling as soon as this summer!

This after the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) own report said there is a 75% — yes, 75% — chance of a large spill if companies like Shell are allowed to develop and produce in Arctic waters.

We can’t stand by and let that happen.

BOEM is holding a public comment period from now until December 23rd before making a critical decision about offshore drilling in the Arctic. They need to hear from you now.

Take action now: Tell the U.S. government to stop risky Arctic Ocean drilling.

With ever-changing sea ice, freezing temperatures, limited visibility, gale-force winds and no Coast Guard base for almost 1,000 miles, cleaning up a major oil spill in the Arctic would be incredibly difficult if not outright impossible.

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/12/11/stand-against-risky-oil-drilling-in-the-arctic-ocean/feed/ 1
BOEM Report: 75% Chance of Spill in Arctic http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/12/02/boem-report-75-chance-of-spill-in-arctic/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/12/02/boem-report-75-chance-of-spill-in-arctic/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 13:00:43 +0000 Andrew Hartsig http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9560 Large ice flows in the Arctic Ocean

Copyright Corbis. All rights reserved.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) recently released a revised environmental analysis of oil and gas activity in the Arctic Ocean.

BOEM’s latest analysis leaves no doubt that development and production of the Chukchi Sea oil and gas leases could be devastating to the Arctic marine ecosystem. Perhaps most troubling, a statistical analysis used by BOEM indicates that there is a 75% chance of one or more large spills over the lifetime of Chukchi Sea development and production. BOEM admits that a very large oil spill could result in the death of large numbers of polar bears, bowhead whales, seals, and marine and coastal birds.

The agency is accepting comments until December 22. Join Ocean Conservancy in telling BOEM to say no to risky Arctic drilling.

This environmental analysis and opportunity to comment has been a long time in the making. Almost seven years ago, in February of 2008, the federal government auctioned oil and gas leases in the Chukchi Sea off the northwest coast of Alaska. The auction was known as Lease Sale 193, and it purported to give successful lessees—including Shell—the conditional right to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean.

But there was a major problem. In 2010, a federal court found that the environmental analysis underpinning Lease Sale 193 was unlawful; the court required the government to revise its analysis and reconsider the sale. Unfortunately, the government failed to fix all the problems and in January of 2014, another federal court ruled that the revised environmental analysis was faulty. In response, the government announced that it would prepare yet another revision and once again reconsider the sale of the leases.

All of which brings us to the end of October, when BOEM released its third major environmental analysis of the 2008 lease sale: the Draft Second Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement Lease Sale 193.

Beyond the 75% chance of one or more large spills, as we’ve described before, there is no way to effectively clean up a large oil spill in Arctic waters. Constantly changing sea ice, fog, high winds, extreme cold, remoteness and lack of shoreline infrastructure all combine to make meaningful cleanup all but impossible. And after Shell’s error-riddled 2012 drilling season, it is clear that we cannot trust oil companies to operate safely and responsibly in the Arctic.

Drilling for oil in the Arctic Ocean is risky business. BOEM’s latest environmental analysis demonstrates that the consequences of a mistake are enormous. Join with Ocean Conservancy in telling BOEM to protect the Arctic Ocean by saying no to drilling in the Chukchi Sea.

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/12/02/boem-report-75-chance-of-spill-in-arctic/feed/ 1
When It Comes to Arctic Drilling, Cumulative Effects Add Up http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/11/22/when-it-comes-to-arctic-drilling-cumulative-effects-add-up/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/11/22/when-it-comes-to-arctic-drilling-cumulative-effects-add-up/#comments Fri, 22 Nov 2013 17:02:42 +0000 Carmen Yeung http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6997 Workers in the ArcticPicture five oil rigs in your nearby ocean. These oil rigs are different sizes and operate in different locations and at different times. Each of these rigs has an impact on marine life and water quality, but each to a different degree.

When the individual impacts of each of these rigs accumulate over time and space, it is known as “cumulative effects.” Think of this like a snowball fight. It’s easy to dodge snowballs when you’re up against one other person.  But when five people are throwing snowballs at you, it’s much harder to avoid getting hit. And the more hits you take, the more bruises you’re bound to get.

Cumulative effects recognizes that the impact of an individual action may be relatively minor on its own, but could be much more significant when considered in combination with the effects of other past, present and future actions. Effective assessment of cumulative effects is one of the most challenging issues in resource management.

Arctic food web and oil impactsAs the pace and scope of industrial activity in Arctic Alaska grows, the need to predict and account for the cumulative effects of oil exploration and development and increasing vessel traffic—including infrastructure and operations—becomes more critical. To avoid or minimize environmental degradation caused by industrial activities or accidents such as oil spills, federal agencies need a reliable way to assess the cumulative effects of proposed actions on the surrounding environment.

This is not an easy task, especially when dealing with multiple decisions that affect large areas over long time periods. The rewards, however, are significant: by understanding and considering the long-range impact of multiple activities over a large spatial area, industry, government regulators, communities and stakeholders may be able to better manage oil exploration and development in Alaska’s Arctic Ocean to avoid or minimize environmental harm.

Unfortunately, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the agency that manages offshore conventional and renewable energy resources (think offshore oil rigs and wind turbines), has not done a good job of analyzing potential cumulative effects in the Arctic in past environmental reviews.

For example, when assessing the cumulative impacts from an Arctic lease sale, BOEM reasoned that because there were 11 existing offshore projects, the proposed project would contribute approximately one-tenth the cumulative effects of waste water, construction, transportation and oil spills influencing water quality. Here, BOEM divided the number of proposed offshore projects (one) by the total number of offshore projects (11) to assess cumulative impact of oil development activities to water quality (=1/11).

This is a deeply flawed approach. Under this logic, each successive project would be responsible for incrementally less impact. With 100 projects, the new proposed project would only be responsible for 1/100 of the impact—but the cumulative effect of 100 projects would likely be far greater than the impacts of 10 projects. Also, this approach doesn’t account for the scale and location of each offshore facility, which are important factors to assessing harm. Combining all of the offshore projects together into a percentage masks the damages to the surrounding environment from a single offshore facility.

One major stumbling block for BOEM is the lack of a standardized approach and methodology for conducting cumulative effects analysis. BOEM can significantly improve its analysis of cumulative effects by developing and adhering to a standardized approach and methodology to cumulative effects analysis. Development of a transparent, broadly accepted approach and methodology for cumulative effects analysis, with common language and accounting for regional factors, will allow the agency to compare results across different planning areas.

A standardized approach and methodology that considers both positive and negative tradeoffs will provide BOEM with structure and guidance in analyzing cumulative effects. Recognizing the importance of cumulative effects, a governmental working group recommended improved understanding and consideration of the cumulative impacts of human activities in the Arctic.

The future health of sensitive Arctic ecosystem depends upon the use of sound analysis to determine the true impact of industrial activities. And good policies should be grounded in good science and analysis.

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/11/22/when-it-comes-to-arctic-drilling-cumulative-effects-add-up/feed/ 0
Offshore Wind Moving Closer to Providing Renewable Energy to the East Coast http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/01/25/offshore-wind-moving-closer-to-providing-renewable-energy-to-the-east-coast/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/01/25/offshore-wind-moving-closer-to-providing-renewable-energy-to-the-east-coast/#comments Fri, 25 Jan 2013 19:40:31 +0000 Anna Zivian http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=4404

Credit: Wind Turbines by Shutterstock/Dennis van de Water

2013 may be a very windy year. All along the Atlantic Coast, offshore renewable power has been getting a boost. In states from North Carolina to Maine, growing support for wind energy has led to practical steps that will get this industry moving.

In North Carolina, Governor McCrory has announced his support for offshore renewable wind development, saying it would help grow North Carolina’s economy and provide jobs. On Tuesday, in Annapolis, Maryland, Governor O’Malley rolled out a bill to create incentives for offshore renewable energy. In Rhode Island and Massachusetts, wind projects are under construction. In Maine, the Public Utilities Commission voted 2-1 on Thursday to approve the terms for Statoil, a Norwegian state energy company, to move forward with a $120 floating wind turbine test project, clearing the biggest step in making the proposal a reality. All along the East Coast, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is moving forward with a public planning to help site offshore wind farms, making sure to consider other ocean users and environmental concerns in the process.

Finally, to help tie it all together, in New Jersey, Atlantic Wind Connection announced that it will be moving forward with plans for the first part of its offshore transmission line that will help connect offshore wind farms to the grid to provide energy to homes and businesses in New Jersey. Construction of the 189-mile segment (of what will eventually be a 350-mile line) is scheduled to be completed by 2015. Even before the line delivers wind energy, it will help (off)shore up the transmission infrastructure.

As we saw from Hurricane Sandy, storms can wreak havoc on the energy distribution system, knocking down power lines and causing hundreds of thousands of people to lose electricity. Having a line offshore and undersea means that at least part of the energy grid will be less vulnerable to the hurricanes and strong storms that are growing more frequent.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management made a finding of no competitive interest and approved AWC to move forward with its permitting process in 2011. The public process for approval allows stakeholders, the public and state and federal agencies to review where and how the line will be sited, what impacts construction of the line could cause, and whether there might be any conflicts created by building the line. This smart planning also lets AWC coordinate with other users to figure out the best routes for the line so that it can link up easily to future offshore wind farms as well as to existing onshore infrastructure.

As Atlantic Wind Connection President Markian Melnyk said about ocean planning at a regional meeting in New England, “”What it means for us is greater predictability, lower risk, lower cost. In our view, when you can identify the right places to do ocean energy, you can do everything better — you can do conservation better and can do energy development better. It doesn’t have to be a fight over siting; this type of collaborative siting work helps makes it more about science and more about sound economics than about fighting.”

With the help of collaboration, coordination and smart planning, renewable energy and better infrastructure may soon become a reality on the East Coast.

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/01/25/offshore-wind-moving-closer-to-providing-renewable-energy-to-the-east-coast/feed/ 0