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CRMC adopts changes to Ocean SAMP
August 1, 2019, Providence – The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) has approved changes to the general and enforceable policies in the R.I. Ocean Special Area Management Plan (OSAMP) in an effort to better address proposed wind farm developments subject to CRMC permitting and federal consistency review.
According to James Boyd, CRMC policy analyst, a number of issues were raised during the CRMC’s federal consistency review process for the Vineyard Wind project, which the agency concurred with in February 2019. The Council-adopted changes tighten up the policies in the SAMP, which inform the CRMC in its state permitting process and federal consistency evaluation of wind farm developments in federal offshore waters.
“The offshore wind energy sector is rapidly gaining ground in northeast waters, and we learned a lot from going through the federal consistency evaluation of the first commercial offshore development, Vineyard Wind,” said Grover Fugate, CRMC executive director. “There were things the State of Rhode Island needed to have more of a voice in during that process and with other wind energy projects going forward, for the benefit of all Rhode Islanders, and these regulation changes will accomplish that goal.”
Changes to the OSAMP’s Chapter 11 include clarification of the regulations and better distinction between state permitting and federal consistency review authority; adding representation of seafood processing facilities onto the CRMC Fishermen’s Advisory Board (FAB) and an increase in FAB membership to 20 to account for the seafood processing facilities representatives; further clarification of the 2011 and 2018 geographic location descriptions (GLDs); clarification of NOAA approval of the Ocean SAMP and federal consistency authority; and the addition of a $20,000 administrative fee for projects subject to CRMC federal consistency review only (where no state permit is required). For the full list of amendments to the chapter, go to http://www.crmc.ri.gov/ and see the links on the right side of the page under Current Proposed Policies/Regulations. The regulations are cited as 650-RICR-20-05-11.
Some of the amendments originally proposed were deferred by the Council as recommended by CRMC staff for further review and will be proposed at a later date. Those included proposed standards for wind farm design, including orientation, turbine spacing, and navigation lanes; amendments to address significant long-term negative impacts and the process for considering mitigation options by the CRMC; amendments to add standards for adverse impacts and whether all feasible options have been evaluated for modifying a project before mitigation can be considered; amendments to add requirements for noise generated by construction and pile driving; and amendments to add requirements for cable burial associated with offshore development.