Interior Department to Develop Plan for Offshore Renewable Energy

February 25, 2009

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced in early February that his agency will develop an offshore energy plan that includes both conventional and renewable resources. The Interior Department plans to assemble a detailed report on conventional and renewable offshore energy resources, with contributions from the U.S. Geological Survey, the Minerals Management Service, and other scientists within the department. The report will assess offshore energy resources and the potential impacts of developing those resources, and it will be due by the end of March.

Based on that report, the Interior Department will determine what information is lacking and will create a plan for gathering that information. That plan will be vetted in four regional meetings, allowing public input on how the Interior Department should move ahead to formulate a comprehensive offshore energy plan. The Interior Department oversees more than 1.7 billion acres on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), an area roughly as large as three-quarters of the United States.

The Interior Department will also expedite its rulemaking for renewable energy development on the OCS. The agency is behind schedule on issuing its final rulemaking, which was required by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The rulemaking will guide the development of offshore energy sources such as wind, wave, and tidal power. Secretary Salazar says he intends to issue a final rulemaking "in the coming months." See the Interior Department press release.