November is Manatee Awareness Month; but no matter what time of year it is, manatees deserve to be celebrated. These amazing creatures fulfill a unique niche by serving as indicator species for ecosystems across the United States. Because of their reliance on the health of their habitat, manatees often act as a signal of their environment’s well-being. NOAA photo by Michael Buchanan.
Spring is coming early in 3/4 of national parks, according to a new study. Awesome? Not so much. As flowers bloom earlier every year, it’s disrupting the link between the wildflowers and the arrival of birds, bees, and butterflies that feed on and pollinate the flowers. In Shenandoah, an earlier spring is giving invasive plants a head start, and they’re displacing native wildflowers, leading to costly management issues.
Before the 1960s almost everything about living openly as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) person was illegal. New York City laws against homosexual activities were particularly harsh. The Stonewall Uprising on June 28, 1969 is a milestone in the quest for LGBT civil rights and provided momentum for a movement.
Vine Creek Ranch at Death Valley National Park. Steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life survives in Death Valley.
Interior Announces Next Steps for Commercial Wind Leasing Offshore Maine
BOEM Commences Environmental Review of Demonstration Project, Provides Opportunity for Public Comment and Expressions of Competitive Interest
WASHINGTON – As part of the Obama Administration's all-of-the-above energy strategy to expand domestic energy development, including renewable energy, the Department of the Interior announced today that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is taking important steps forward in the assessment of a proposed project to demonstrate floating offshore wind technology on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) offshore Maine.
Statoil North America has requested a commercial wind lease to build a demonstration project of full-scale floating wind turbine technology offshore Maine. The proposed project, located about 12 nautical miles off the coast, would have a 12-megawatt production capacity through four wind turbine generators. The Statoil proposal also responds to a Request for Proposals (RFP) issued by the Maine Public Utilities Commission.
“This is the first time that this innovative floating technology is being considered for development in deeper waters offshore our coasts,” said Deputy Secretary of the Interior David J. Hayes. “Statoil's interest in partnering with the Interior Department, the State of Maine and other key stakeholders reconfirms that the Obama Administration's all-of-the-above energy strategy is the right way to go. As we develop America's prolific, home-grown renewable energy resources - both onshore and offshore – we are strengthening our nation's economy and energy independence.”
“BOEM has been engaged in productive discussions with Statoil regarding this forward-looking project, and we are working closely with our Maine Renewable Energy Task Force,” said BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau. “We will continue our close coordination as the U.S. federal government, the state of Maine and other stakeholders proceed with the next steps in the review of this project, including moving forward with environmental review and determining whether there's competitive interest from other developers.”
The bureau is seeking public comment – through a Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) – on important environmental issues and reasonable alternatives related to the proposed leasing, site characterization and assessment activities, and construction and operation activities in the offshore area under consideration. BOEM intends to prepare an EIS that will consider the reasonably foreseeable environmental consequences associated with the Statoil Hywind Maine project and will request comments from the public for the purpose of identifying the important issues to be considered in the EIS.
The area Statoil North America has requested for a commercial wind lease covers approximately 22 square miles. The area may be reduced based on the EIS analysis and other factors.
BOEM is also asking whether other developers are interested in constructing wind facilities in the same area off the coast of Maine, in order to determine whether to proceed with leasing on a competitive or non-competitive basis. Publication of a Request for Interest (RFI) in the Federal Register will open a 60-day public comment period to solicit submissions of indications of competitive interest and additional information on potential environmental consequences and other uses of the proposed lease area.
In August, 2011, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar visited the Offshore Wind Laboratory at the University of Maine where he met with researchers and saw firsthand the floating offshore wind turbine platforms technology they are testing.
Statoil North America submitted an unsolicited application for commercial wind energy lease on the OCS offshore Maine to BOEM in October 2011. BOEM determined Statoil North America to be legally qualified in November 2011 and technically and financially qualified in April 2012.