Help Ensure Offshore Wind Limits Harm to Marine Life

We need your help to ensure offshore wind site assessment activities are done responsibly to reduce harm to marine wildlife – including collisions with vessels, disturbance from light and noise, and destruction of seafloor habitat – and to require monitoring that will allow better understanding of wildlife impacts.

Last month, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced that it’ is proceeding with lease sales in Wind Energy Areas off Oregon’s Coast. Along with the lease sale notice, BOEM has also put forth a Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for site assessment and characterization activities. These include activities that companies will conduct in the locations where they are seeking to establish turbine arrays, such as installing meteorological test buoys (secured with miles of cables), deploying automated undersea vehicles that use acoustic techniques to map the seafloor, and making hundreds of vessel trips to and from the proposed lease areas. All of these activities could have negative impacts to marine wildlife and habitats. We need your help to urge BOEM to amend its Oregon Wind Energy EA to require greater precautions to reduce impacts of site characterization activities on Oregon’s cherished wildlife. See below for our talking points.

Take Action

To make your comment on the Draft Environmental Assessment, go to this link and submit by attaching your letter or typing in the comment box:

Submit Comments

The deadline to submit comments is Friday May 31.

Tufted Puffins
Tufted Puffins, photo by Isaac Sanchez.

Sample Letter with Key Recommendations

(please personalize):

Example Subject Line: Comments on BOEM’s Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for site assessment and characterization activities
Dear Director Klein,

I am writing to urge BOEM to amend its Oregon Wind Energy EA to require greater precautions to reduce impacts of site characterization activities on Oregon’s cherished wildlife. I urge BOEM to conduct a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), including a west coast wide cumulative impacts analysis to broadly review impacts for all species that transit multiple planned wind energy development zones. BOEM’s decision to separate the analysis of site characterization activities from actual development and construction of wind energy arrays make the analysis disjointed and piecemeal. This is counter to the intent of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires a thoughtful analysis of environmental impacts and alternatives to effectively reduce impacts.

For site characterization activities, the greatest risks to wildlife include vessel collisions, impacts from acoustic assessment, seafloor disturbance, and impacts from lights.

To mitigate for these impacts, I encourage BOEM to require lessees to follow all Best Management Practices and more specifically to:

    • Prohibit site characterization activities during times of highest risk for marine mammals, sea turtles, and seabirds. These include periods of high migration, of molt for alcid seabirds, and when mother-calf pairs are present;
    • Require generous clearance zone and exclusion zone distances prior to activities that could injure or harass large whales;
    • Require shutdown of activities if large whales are detected;
    • Require mandatory 10-knot vessel speed restrictions on all vessels to reduce risk of collisions;
    • Require underwater noise reduction to the fullest extent feasible;
    • Require that for surveys in waters deeper than 100 m, survey equipment should be deployed using an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) operated 40 m above the seafloor;
    • Require mandatory reporting of all large whale and sea turtle detections as well as detections of seabird species of concern, including short and black tailed albatross, tufted puffins, and storm petrels;
    • Require robust baseline monitoring protocols to characterize distribution, foraging activities, and presence, habitat, and migration patterns of large whale species, killer whales, migratory birds, and sea turtles;
    • Ensure that lighting on vessels and buoys is minimized and shielded downward to reduce risks of light-driven attraction of birds
    • Require that buoy anchoring systems be sited to avoid sensitive seafloor habitat areas, such as coral forests.

Thank you, (your name)