The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) prepared this environmental assessment (EA) to determine whether the issuance of a lease within the Humboldt Wind Energy Area (WEA) would lead to reasonably foreseeable significant impacts on the environment and, thus, whether an environmental impact statement (EIS) should be prepared prior to issuing a renewable energy lease.
The purpose of the Proposed Action is to issue up to three commercial renewable energy leases within the WEAs and grant rights-of-way (ROWs) and rights-of-use and easement (RUEs) in the northern California region of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). BOEM’s issuance of these leases and granting of ROWs and RUEs is needed to (a) confer the exclusive right to submit Site Assessment Plans (SAPs) to BOEM for potential development such that the lessees and grantees develop plans for BOEM’s review and commit to site assessment and site characterization activities necessary to determine the suitability of their leases, easements, and ROWs for commercial offshore wind production and/or transmission; and (b) ensure that site assessment and site characterization activities are conducted in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. The issuance of a lease by BOEM to the lessee conveys no right to proceed with development of a wind energy facility; the lessee acquires only the exclusive right to submit a plan to conduct this activity.
On July 16, 2021, BOEM released the Announcement of Area Identification Memorandum (Appendix A). The Memorandum documents the analysis and rationale in support of the recommended designation of the Humboldt WEA, offshore Humboldt County, California, for environmental analysis and consideration for leasing. The Humboldt WEA was created entirely from the Humboldt Call Area, as described in Table 1-1 and depicted in Figure 1-1. The Humboldt Call Area was identified in the Call for Information and Nominations (Call) published on October 19, 2018 (83 FR 53096). The boundary of the Humboldt WEA begins 34 kilometers (km) (21 miles [mi]) offshore the city of Eureka, measures 45 km (28 mi) north to south and 23 km (14 mi) east to west, totaling approximately 132,368 acres (ac) (206 square miles (mi2 )). Water depths across the WEA range from approximately 500 to 1,100 meters (m) (1,640–3,609 feet [ft]).