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The Minerals Management Service (MMS) is proceeding with the consultation and analyses necessary to move toward the issuance of limited leases under its interim policy for authorizing alternative energy data collection and technology testing activities on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

MMS announced its interim policy in November 2007 to jump-start basic information-gathering efforts relating to development of OCS alternative energy resources such as wind, waves, and ocean currents as authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct). The limited leases envisioned under the interim policy will be for a term of five years and will not convey any right or priority for commercial development.

The 10 lease areas (six off New Jersey, one off Delaware and three off Georgia) proposed for site assessment activities relating to wind resources drew no competing nominations and no significant comment. MMS will proceed with a noncompetitive leasing process for these sites.

Three of the four lease areas off the southeast coast of Florida proposed for site assessment or technology testing activities relating to ocean current resources received competing nominations and comments concerning the areas were favorable. MMS will proceed with a noncompetitive leasing process for the one site that did not receive competing nominations.

Neither of the two areas in Humboldt and Mendocino counties in California proposed for site assessment and technology testing relating to wave resources drew new competing nominations.

The process for issuing limited leases under the interim policy will entail thorough environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act and related laws, as well as close consultation with federal, state and local government agencies as required by EPAct.

In related news, MMS has created a new organization to reflect the significance the agency places on alternative energy. The newly formed Office of Offshore Alternative Energy Programs raises the alternative energy program's stature in the organization and enhances the program's ability to meet the new statutory mandates and respond to the unique needs of the regulated community. 

The alternative energy office, led by Maureen Bornholdt, will develop and implement policy, analysis and overall management of the OCS alternative energy leasing and operations program while ensuring compliance with departmental goals and philosophy.

SOURCE: Minerals Management Service



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