Reports: Massachusetts and Rhode Island Wind Energy Areas Do Not Affect Protected Wildlife

The Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) offshore Massachusetts and Rhode Island avoid the high concentrations of protected species of whales, turtles and seabirds, according to the results of two new multi-year surveys carried out by the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC).

“BOEM remains deeply committed to ensuring that renewable energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf is done in a safe and environmentally responsible manner,” said BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper.

“The survey results confirm that responsible commercial wind development activities in these WEAs will not adversely affect protected species populations.”

Waters offshore Massachusetts and Rhode Island are important for many species year-round, including breeding, non-breeding and migratory periods, BOEM said. Baseline knowledge of wildlife distributions and habitat use are key to making environmentally responsible decisions.

These data can be used to identify important habitat areas, guide siting decisions for future development and inform environmental permitting requirements and mitigation efforts, aimed at minimizing effects from these activities to wildlife.

“As the Commonwealth begins to harness the benefits of offshore wind power generation, it is imperative that we balance innovation with our obligation of environmental stewardship for the waters surrounding our state,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton.

“These studies will streamline the permitting process for an emerging energy growth sector while protecting the environment so the Commonwealth can solidify its position as a hub of energy innovation while creating high-quality jobs and providing cost-effective power for ratepayers.”

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