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For offshore wind north of Cape Cod, groups demand earlier environmental review

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Sarah Mizes-Tan

Nearly 20 environmental groups have signed a letter to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management asking for a change in the offshore wind planning process.

Led by the Conservation Law Foundation, the groups want the federal government to conduct a full environmental review before delineating wind energy areas in the Gulf of Maine, between Cape Cod and Nova Scotia.

A “wind energy area” is a boundary within which the government creates smaller sections to be leased for commercial offshore wind.

In the area south of the Cape and Islands, the analysis came too late and relied heavily on issues raised in public comments, said Nick Krakoff, a staff attorney at the Conservation Law Foundation.

“They're not doing an independent and robust analysis upfront,” he said.

Among the other organizations signing the letter to BOEM were the National Audubon Society, New England Aquarium, and numerous Maine-based conservation groups.

They want to reduce conflicts with critical habitat and fishing grounds earlier in the process, Krakoff said.

In response, BOEM Director Amanda Lefton said the agency values transparency.

“BOEM is committed to identifying areas for offshore wind development that avoids or reduces impacts to the marine environment, multiple ocean users, Tribal nations and key stakeholders,” she told CAI in a written statement.

“We will continue to look at our process with an eye towards transparency and additional opportunities for early and often engagement,” she said.

BOEM is hosting a meeting May 19 to address commercial offshore wind in the Gulf of Maine.