Siting, Leasing, and Permitting

  • Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act of 1953 (OCSLA):  Granted the US Department of Interior (DOI) the authority to lease submerged lands on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).  The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005) amended this act to give DOI the authority to lease renewable energy, including offshore wind, on the OCS.  DOI delegated this authority to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which has established a "Smart from the Start" Initiative that seeks to identify priority Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) through state-federal Renewable Energy Task Forces for expedited leasing.
  • Federal Power Act:  Per a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between DOI and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), FERC has the lead role in regulating offshore kinetic energy, such as tidal or wave energy devices, while BOEM has the lead role in regulating offshore wind on the OCS.
  • Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899:  Authorizes the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to review and regulate certain structures and work that are located in or that affect navigable waters of the United States, including submarine cable systems.
  • National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA):  Requires federal agencies to consider the potential environmental impacts of proposed federal actions and their alternatives. For any federal action that is likely to result in significant environmental impacts, lead agencies must prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) and/or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
  • Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA):  Requires federal agencies to consult with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)-National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to ensure that proposed federal actions are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any federally-listed species, or result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat.
  • Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (MMPA): Prohibits, with certain exceptions, the take of marine mammals in US waters by US citizens.
  • Magnuson‐Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 (MSFCMA):  Requires federal agencies to consult with NOAA-NMFS on proposed federal actions that may adversely affect essential fish habitats necessary for spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity of federally managed fisheries.
  • Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 (MPRSA):  Prohibits the dumping of certain materials without a permit from the EPA.  The USACE is in charge of dredged spoils. 
  • Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (MBTA):  Prohibits, unless permitted by regulations, the "hunting, taking, capture, killing, possession, sale, purchase, shipment, transportation, carriage, or export of any...bird, or any part, nest or egg."
  • National Marine Sanctuaries Act of 1972 (NMSA):  Authorizes NOAA to administer a national network of marine sanctuaries.  Prohibits the destruction, loss of, or injury to any sanctuary resource managed under the law or permit.
  • Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (CZMA):  Specifies that coastal states may protect coastal resources and manage coastal development through federally-approved plans.
  • National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA): Requires each federal agency to consult with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) and the State or Tribal Historic Preservation Officer before allowing a federally licensed activity to proceed in an area where cultural or historic resources might be located.
  • Federal Aviation Act of 1958:  Requires that, when construction, alteration, establishment, or expansion of a structure is proposed, adequate public notice be given to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to promote safety in air commerce and the efficient use of navigable airspace.
  • Ports and Waterways Safety Act of 1972 (PWSA):  Authorizes the US Coast Guard (USCG) to supervise vessel traffic to ensure safety, provide navigation, and protect the marine environment.
  • Clean Water Act of 1972 (CWA):  Prohibits the discharge of oil or hazardous substances into waters or adjoining shorelines which may affect natural resources belonging to the United States.
  • Clean Air Act of 1970 (CAA):  Prohibits federal agencies from providing financial assistance or issuing approval for activities that do not conform to approved plans for achieving National Ambient Air Quality Standards; requires the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), or authorized state agencies, to issue a permit before the construction of, or major modification to, any major stationary source of air pollution.
  • Executive Order 13547- Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts, and the Great Lakes:  Directs federal agencies to take such action as necessary to implement the national ocean policy, under the National Ocean Council's (NOC's) guidance, and encourages regional ocean plans.

Technology Assessment and Development

Federal Financial Incentives

Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning

  • MarineCadastre.gov:  Integrated marine information system that provides jurisdictional, legal, physical, ecological, and human use data in a common geographic information system (GIS) framework.  Maintained by NOAA- Coastal Services Center (CSC) and BOEM.
  • Tethys:  Database and knowledge management system that provides access to information and research pertaining to the potential environmental effects of marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) and offshore wind development.  Maintained by the DOE-Wind and Water Program.
  • Data.Gov/Ocean: Portal for data and decision support tools (DSTs) to support coastal and marine spatial planning (CMSP).  Maintained by the NOC.
  • US Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS):  Portal for ocean observation data and forecasting tools.  Maintained by NOAA- National Ocean Service (NOS).
  • BOEM Environmental Studies Program (ESP):  Research portfolio covers ongoing and completed studies in physical oceanography, atmospheric sciences, biology, protected species, social sciences and economics, submerged cultural resources and environmental impacts.
  • National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP):  Research portfolio encompass numerous areas, including oceanographic research and exploration, technology development, offshore wind specific studies, resource management, and ocean education.