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USA - How regulators are approaching the push for offshore wind

There are more than a dozen offshore wind projects currently proposed off the U.S. East Coast, which together could power millions of homes. But the proposed projects must balance the need for renewable energy with concerns from and commercial ocean users, like fishermen. For more on how the Biden Administration sees offshore wind, Hari Sreenivasan speaks with Amanda Lefton, the Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

Hari Sreenivasan:

For more on how the Biden administration is looking to balance the need for renewable energy with environmental and commercial concerns, I recently spoke with Amanda Lefton. She is the newly appointed Director of the Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which is the lead federal regulator for offshore wind projects.

Each of these offshore wind energy projects has so many different stakeholders involved. You've got millions of dollars on the development side. You've got commercial fishermen who are concerned what happens to their cash when there's development out there. How do you balance all this?

Amanda Lefton:

Stakeholder engagement is such a critical part of responsible offshore wind development. Undoubtedly, the commercial fishing industry, indigenous communities, and other critical stakeholders are such a central part to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's process for identifying wind energy areas and then, of course, subsequently working on project reviews, including environmental impact statements. It's so critical that those voices are heard and at the table so that we can look to find these conflict areas for all ocean users involved as we look at places to develop offshore wind and other projects.

Hari Sreenivasan:

Right now, the Biden Administration has made renewable energy one of the priorities. Does that add pressure to how you look at these projects?

Amanda Lefton:

Not at all, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, is really focused on a data-driven, science-based approach to how we review projects. That means that we are going to do a full environmental review and we do do full environmental reviews of projects. That means we are going to engage other stakeholders and we're going to do an honest review of those products as they as they advance, based on science and data

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