Sep 24, 2010

Maine offshore wind - what DMR & NOAA asked at the 9/14/10 meeting. Part 1

Following the initial presentation by Aditi Mirani at the September 14, 2010 meeting of the new Maine federal ocean energy  initiative, came the first question and answer session. 

Maine officials including Karin Tilberg  of the Governor's office, Commissioner George Lapointe of DMR, Kathleen Leyden of Maine Coastal Program, John Henshaw of Maine Port Authority  and federal official Chris Boelke of NMFS Marine Habitat Protection, questioned Aditi Mirani and Maureen Bornholdt of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement's Renewable Energy office about the draft State/Federal Task Force Charter. Here is a transcript of that discussion. 

Q.  Karin Tilberg, Maine Governor's Office. "Can you make sure task force members will be able to get a copy of these presentations and list of attendees? There are a few folks invited who couldn't be here, but they want info."

A. Aditi Mirani BOEMRE  "All presentation materials are going to be posted on our website in a week or two and we will send out and a meeting summary for the members so people have their copy of that info about the plan."

Q  Kathleen Leyden, Maine Coastal Program. "Building on what Karin said, because Maine has no identified sites on the OCS in terms of local elected oficials, we were unable to really come up with a list of potentially affected 
municipalities, so the state elected reps here and folks from the county govt that were unable to participate today.   They are the proxy for representation among municipal officials. Just to clarify that.

Q Chris Boelke NMFS. As was mentioned at one of the other task forces, the Massachusetts task force, there is no representation here of the NEFMC as one of the major regulatory entities out on the OCS.  George, I don't know if you are representing the state or the Fishery Council right now, but I know there was going to be some talk between the executive director and the chairman and the BOEMRE. I don't know if that has happened, but I encourage that too, before you move forward. 

A. Maureen Bornholdt, BOEMRE Renewables Chief.  We did talk about that at the Massachusetts task force meeting last week, and since we've all been in kind of transit we've not made that communication with NOAA in 
Silver Spring.   To bring people up to date:

There was this issue as to whether or not the Fishery Council qualifies as a governmental entity. 

One thing we'll get into in this meeting, is, how can we organize this kind of meeting? We're following the rules of the federal advisory committee act in the sense of keeping it  governmental, so we do not have to charter under FACA.  

There are advantages to chartering an advisory board under FACA. Do not misunderstand me. But in order to have the dynamic membership, in order to be able to call meetings as needed, the flexibility to not be chartered under FACA is essential. But one of the issues associated with not being a FACA chartered committee is that we have to make sure that the dialog around the 
table is governmental, because if we have non governmental entities sitting at the table advising us, we're in violation of the law.

So we're reaching out to the folks at NOAA Headquarters in Silver Spring to get their reading and their advice  on whether or not or how they view the fishing management councils and if  it fits with what our attorneys in general law deem as an appropriate members. so we're on the correct side of FACA, we're going to invite them to the table.

 We just had the Massachusetts meeting, we  will be in contact with NOAA in Silver Spring and have that decision made.

George Lapointe, Maine DMR.  That's a good question, Chris. If the [New England Fishery Management Council] thought I was speaking for them without without consulting them, they would beat me with a stick.  I am going to the Council meeting at the end of the month and will talk to the executive director about it, and with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries folks about maintaining lines of communication to make sure that regardless of how the interactions go, we make sure they're plugged into this process.

Maureen Bornholdt: George, you also just reminded me the thing about the membership around the table because you do have those lines of communication and those stakeholders who basically sit behind you at the table, and  we do encourage that kind of dialogue.  So if there arrives the point that the fishery council can sit here, fantastic; if not, at least there are members around the table whether they are local elected officials, George yourself or in your every day profession, that dialog can occur 
whether or not they're sitting here.

Q.  Beth Nagusky, MDEP Commissioner: I want to make sure that I understood, Aditi that what you were referring to as the scope of this task force, when you said we could not alter the regulatory framework. I heard when we were going around the table, people talking abot the permitting 
process in federal waters, and you know concerns have been raised in the past about that about that. 

So I'm trying to get some clarification, about in this task force, what role would our input on the regulatory process, the length of time that the permitting process takes for federal waters, because this has been discussed in relationship to the RFP the Public Utility Commission has those issues, can you clarify that?

A. Aditi Mirani,  BOEMRE Maine Coordinator: We cannot really change our procedure in place, so if you are asking in terms of modifying the timelines, I don't believe that's an option.

A. Bornholdt.  We do have the regulatory framework out there. We call it a "framework" because we knew that we would be leasing for many different types of renewables. 

Aditi is correct; when it comes to a particular provision in the regulation, we cannot deviate from that  But there is a lot of flexibility in the regulatory framework to combine, for instance,  construction operation plans with site assessment plans,  where  a developer or applicant feels it has the information needed to be able to  meet the sector requirements. 

There is always  flexibility with regard to consultations. Jumpstarting some of the dialogue here. 

So where we cannot change a particular revision in subpart F of the rule, that's absolutely accurate; whether the dialogue here sparks an interest or, "hey, this sounds like a good rule change", there's an methodology to contacting BOEMRE to offer that up. In the context of being a member of the task force that's appropriate.

In the task force in itself, individual members cannot independently come up with regulatory changes that we will adopt. There's a whole process for that.

Can we change the regulatory provisions around the table? No.  Are there flexibilities for streamlining? Yes We can work them to the extent practical as long as wel meet our environmental requirements

Q. Chris Boelke NMFS . Not to be repetitive of what we did in Massachusetts. It may be worth describing a little bit of how this task force process, how you anticipate it intersects with the Ocean Policy Task Force,  the coastal and  marine spatial  planning bodies that are being set up right now?

A. Maureen Bornholdt BOEMRE  Develop our own mini spatial planning So when we go forward like we have in to Massachusetts and get down to this polygon and see if there's interest in commercial leasing.

Talk about our Massachusetts experience. We've had three formal meetings. Jess Bradley is our point of contact there. We've had three formal meetings in Massachusetts.

The first meeting was like this; kind of tedious, just to get all the processes out on the table; who does what on the state side and federal side. 

The second meeting was a rather contentious meeting.  We started talking about: what issues are there? What is important to the state and what's important  to the feds and the processes? We started out by outlining a huge area of the ocean and having this really contentious but really solid dialog. 

By the time we met last week, [1st week of September] a lot of work had gone on. Not only between the states, because Massachusetts and Rhode Island had a dialog associated with areas of common interest shared; but the states went back and took a look at its stakeholders and some of the issues there concerning viewshed and tribal rights. 

As well, we took a look at reaching out to the federal family. In particular, DOD gave us some really good feedback on some areas associated with the first polygon and when we all arrived at last week's meeting there was a refinement in understanding of what would be reasonable to go out 
as a first potential area to see if there was any interest in it.

For interest, the state [Massachusetts] moved a nine mile buffer out to 12, to handle the viewshed issues, which also handles some other concerns that they had heard. They also went out and took a look at the data that they had and explained how that folded into the identification of the RFI.  

We have Matt Nixon.  Maine has some really good data that we are going to also integrate into this, so there has been an evolution and so we're looking at this to do our own in-Maine mini-marine spatial planning. 

Whether we're proactive and do something kinda like what Massachauetts is doing, or whether we're reactive to an unsolicited proposal or a developer that wants to be coming intot hte state, we're going to using this kind of mini-marine spatial planning concept, so when the National Ocean Council is  set up for the North Atlantic, this can work seamlessly into that and we don't have to start over from stage one. The worst thing would be is to wait for that to be established. There would be opportunities lost; Maine is unable to actualize some if its goals in renewable energy. 

While we're waiting for the national system to be set up, we're going to go ahead to do our own, we're going to engage with you all to do our own mini marine spatial planning so we can link up, hopefully seamlessly with the national effort.

A. Kathleen Leyden. Maine Coastal Program. George Lapointe and I and Dierdre Gilbert from DMR represent the state of Maine on the  Northeast Regional Ocean Council also called NROC; a creature of the New England Governor's Conference.  Marine spatial planning has long been on the agenda for the NROC, drawing on the experience of Massachusetts and Rhode Island and to a lesser extent, Maine's spatial planning efforts in nearshore that involved the siting of an ocean energy demonstration site off Monhegan Island 

The national ocean policy that Maureen made reference to calls for the establishment of new regional planning bodies the NROC is on that.  NROC is very much intersted in not serving as the regional planner but having the regional planning body  a real strong relationship to NROC. We have 
representation around the table

A. Maureen Bornholdt The example of Massachusetts and Rhode Island is a good one, because they found after doing their individual state planning efforts, they had both articulated places in the sea that both states had an interest in. That already provides a venue in advance of the establishment of the regional 
planning body and that kind of interstate coordination. Ocean energy being one of the reasons why we're interested; so that each of the articipating states realizes their ocean energy goals.

Q. John Henshaw. Maine Port Authority. I wanted to follow up on Beth's question earlier about the permitting process and the opportunities for streamlining it. I participated in a conference call with MMS several months ago, where they described a permitting process that  could take as many 
as ten to 12 years. I was wondering if that was the type of streamlining that we might be able to affect through this task force 

A. Bornholdt. Why don't we get into the leasing process first, and then asking that question we can look at some of the coordination.

Q. George Lapointe. Chris and Kathy  brought up other organizations that we should consider coordinating with. In the other task forces you've had are there other examples of folks that we should logically think about having communication and coordination with?

A. Bornholdt. I think we did invite Federal energy from FERC because I know that's part of the RFP It talked about them as somebody we should make sure sits around the table and is informed. DOD.  

If you have it handy, walk through the lists of federal entities and the state entities that we invited, we have a pretty good group represntation here. The only people missing are DOD and ___(unintelligible)  

Q. George Lapointe DMR.  I was thinking more of groups who were not invited. Much like the NEFMC and NROC. Are there other groups that the other states... are there other regional non-federal groups that... 

Bornholdt. I think we have all the root organizations that can reach back to the folks that aren't at the table.  There were a couple of municipal regional planning bodies that were on that.  (the Massachusetts task force)

Maureen Bornholdt. Those were actually raised by the [Massachusetts] Governor's office.  After we have this first meeting, Karin and others from the state can assess, and I think that's what Kathleen mentioned as well because there's not a specific site, in lieu of specific elected local officials you have state reps. 

I think what you're going to see is this agains getting back to Aditi's point: the dynamic membership as we become more familiar with one another, know which direction we're leaning towards, we'll be able to identify the appropriate elected officials, either the local level etc.

And again if they can't sit at the table, George, we can at least try to put our heads together and think who can reach back and be sure there's communication with others.

END Q&A SESSION #1

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