Washington Waves
Washington Waves

Port Boosts Included In Offshore Wind Expansion

Washington, D.C.—Provisions to boost port operations were among those included in actions announced by the Biden administration to expand offshore wind nationally.

Topping that announcement was a proposal for the first-ever Gulf of Mexico offshore wind lease sale as well as actions to expand an existing effort to build America’s supply chain and increase the skilled workforce for offshore wind. Those actions included adding California and Louisiana to a federal-state partnership launched last year by President Biden along with 11 East Coast states to build that domestic supply chain, boost the workforce needed for offshore wind and spur its development to additional areas of the country. That move followed the recent offshore wind auction in California and precedes the proposed Gulf of Mexico offshore wind auction.

In other action, the departments of Energy, the Interior, Commerce and Transportation kicked off a two-day Floating Offshore Wind Shot Summit to advance the administration’s goals of reducing the costs of floating offshore wind energy.

“Floating technologies are key to harnessing about two-thirds of U.S. offshore wind energy potential, including along the West Coast, Gulf of Maine and other deep-water areas,” a White House fact sheet stated.

That summary also cited a recent administration announcement making more than $660 million available through the Port Infrastructure Development Program for the current fiscal year.

The Proposed Sale Notice (PSN) for the Gulf of Mexico includes an area offshore Lake Charles, La., and two areas offshore Galveston, Texas. The Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is seeking public comments on the proposed lease areas and the proposed lease stipulations in the PSN. A 60-day public comment period will be initiated after the PSN is published in the Federal Register, which was scheduled for February 24.

Power Plant Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reinstated a finding on a 2012 action requiring reductions of air pollution from power plants.

With that key announcement, the EPA also reversed a rule issued by the Trump administration in 2020, a move described by Biden administration critics as a direct hit on coal.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan said the 2012 Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) for years protected the health of those who lived near power plants.

“This finding ensures the continuation of these critical, life-saving protections,” Regan said.

A leading Republican critic accused the EPA of reviving its “coal-killing MATS rule.”

“We are once again reminded that the Biden administration’s end goal is to shut down American coal plants, fire American coal workers and do everything in its power to make America less energy independent,” stated Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), the panel’s chairman, cheered EPA’s action as “appropriate and necessary” to regulate toxic air pollution from power plants.

Engineroom Exhaust Hazards

The Coast Guard issued Marine Safety Alert 02-23 addressing engine room exhaust hazards on fishing vessels.

According to the alert, a recent marine casualty identified significant hazards associated with main engine dry exhaust systems coming in direct contact with combustible materials such as general-purpose resin on a wood Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic (RFP) vessel.

While some commercial fishing vessels are required to insulate combustibles from heated surfaces, the alert stated, there is currently no specific requirements for commercial fishing vessels to use fire retardant resin or to install noncombustible panels around machinery compartment boundaries. The Coast Guard recommends that commercial fishing owners and operators address such hazards.

For additional information, contact HQS-SMB-CGINV@uscg.mil.

Homeland Security Council

The Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) is scheduled to meet March 16 with a draft report from the Supply Chain Security Subcommittee on its agenda.

Open to the public via web conference, the meeting is set to begin at 2 p.m. Eastern at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Indian Treaty Room, in Washington, DC.

Written comments can be submitted from February 21 to March 14 via http://www.regulations.gov, email at HSAC@hq.dhs.gov or mail to Rebecca Sternhell, Executive Director of the Homeland Security Advisory Council, Office of Partnership and Engagement, Mailstop 0385, Department of Homeland Security, 2707 Martin Luther King Jr., Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20528. They must be identified by Docket No. DHS-2023-0008. Members of the public wishing to participate should contact Rebecca Sternhell as soon as possible at 202-891-2976 or HSAC@hq.dhs.gov.

Marine Debris Committee

The Interagency Marine Debris Coordinating Committee (IMDCC) is scheduled to meet virtually March 15 to discuss federal marine debris activities.

Open to the public, the meeting is set to begin at 2 p.m. Eastern. Members of the public can connect to the meeting using the link at https://meet.google.com/jcr-hhqu-xxt or the phone number 904-717-5054 and PIN: 925 455 286#. Attendance will be limited to the first 250 individuals to join the virtual meeting room.

For additional information, contact Ya’el Seid-Green at 240-533-0399 or yael.seid-green@noaa.gov or visit the IMDCC website at https://marinedebris.noaa.gov/ourwork/IMDCC for the latest information on the agenda and how to participate.