? _ RL40175 - Wind Energy: Offshore Permitting
29-Jan-2009; Adam Vann; 16 p.

Abstract: Technological advancement, tax incentives, and policy concerns have driven a global expansion in the development of renewable energy resources. Wind energy, in particular, is now often cited as the fastest growing commercial energy source in the world. Currently, all U.S. wind energy facilities are based on land; however, multiple offshore projects have been proposed and are moving through the permitting process.

The United States has the authority to permit and regulate offshore wind energy development within the zones of the oceans under its jurisdiction. The federal government and coastal states each have roles in the permitting process, the extent of which depends on whether the project is located in state or federal waters. Currently, no single federal agency has exclusive responsibility for permitting related to activities on submerged lands in federal waters; authority is allocated among various agencies based on the nature of the resource to be exploited and the type of impacts incidental to such exploitation. The same is true for offshore wind energy context, where several federal agencies have a role to play in permitting development and operation activities.

Congress passed section 388 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58) to address previous uncertainties regarding offshore wind projects. This provision retains a role for the Army Corps of Engineers in permitting under the Rivers and Harbors Act but grants ultimate authority over offshore wind energy development to the Secretary of the Interior. The provision also contains various exemptions from the regulatory regime it establishes for projects that received certain permits prior to the enactment of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Regulations implementing this grant of statutory authority are forthcoming and could bring additional and significant nuance to the regulatory process.

This report, which supersedes CRS Report RL32658, will discuss the disputes over Corps jurisdiction prior to enactment of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 as well as the current law applicable to siting offshore wind facilities. [read report]

Topics: Energy, Legislative, Science & Technology

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