This Marine Mammals and Sea Turtles Study (Study) is one of a collection of studies prepared on behalf of New York State in support of the New York State Offshore Wind Master Plan (Master Plan). These studies provide information on a variety of potential environmental, social, economic, regulatory, and infrastructure-related issues associated with the planning for future offshore wind energy development off the coast of the State. When the State embarked on these studies, it began by looking at a study area identified by the New York State Department of State (DOS) in its two-year Offshore Atlantic Ocean Study (DOS 2013). This study area, referred to as the “offshore study area (OSA),” is a 16,740-squaremile (43,356-square-kilometer) area of the Atlantic Ocean extending from New York City and the south shore of Long Island to beyond the continental shelf break and slope into oceanic waters to an approximate maximum depth of 2,500 meters (m) (Figure 1). The OSA was a starting point for examining where turbines may best be located, and the area potentially impacted. Each of the State’s individual studies ultimately focused on a geographic Area of Analysis (AoA) that was unique to that respective study. The AoA for this Study is described below in Section 1.1.
The State envisions that its collection of studies will form a knowledge base for the area off the coast of New York that will serve a number of purposes, including: (1) informing the preliminary identification of an area for the potential locating of offshore wind energy areas that was submitted to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) on October 2, 2017 for consideration and further analysis; (2) providing current information about potential environmental and social sensitivities, economic and practical considerations, and regulatory requirements associated with any future offshore wind energy development; (3) identifying measures that could be considered or implemented with offshore wind projects to avoid or mitigate potential risks involving other uses and/or resources; and (4) informing the preparation of a Master Plan to articulate New York State’s vision of future offshore wind development. The Master Plan identifies the potential future wind energy areas that have been submitted for BOEM’s consideration, discusses the State’s goal of encouraging the development of 2,400 megawatts of wind energy off the New York coast by 2030, and sets forth suggested guidelines and best management practices (BMPs) that the State will encourage to be incorporated into future offshore wind energy development.
Each of the studies was prepared in support of the larger effort and was shared for comment with federal and State agencies, indigenous nations, and relevant stakeholders, including nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and commercial entities, as appropriate. The State addressed comments andincorporated feedback received into the studies. Feedback from these entities helped to strengthen the quality of the studies, and also helped to ensure that these work products will be of assistance to developers of proposed offshore wind projects in the future. A summary of the comments and issues identified by these external parties is included in the Outreach Engagement Summary, which is appended to the Master Plan.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 amended Section 8 of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) to give BOEM the authority to identify offshore wind development sites within the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) and to issue leases on the OCS for activities that are not otherwise authorized by the OCSLA, including wind farms. The State recognizes that all development in the OCS is subject to review processes and decision-making by BOEM and other federal and State agencies. Neither this collection of studies nor the State’s Master Plan commit the State or any other agency or entity to any specific course of action with respect to offshore wind energy development. Rather, the State’s intent is to facilitate the principled planning of future offshore development off the New York coast, provide a resource for the various stakeholders, and encourage the achievement of the State’s offshore wind energy goals.