May 24, 2012

Feds/Maine ocean energy task force e-meets on next 2 steps reviewing Statoil's 4-turbine floating windpark plan, then holds public teleconference. AUDIO and TRANSCRIPT of public teleconference

On  May 23, 2012, the Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) held a virtual interagency meeting of the Maine Ocean Energy Task Force  on the next steps reviewing energy giant Statoil's  "unsolicited" application to deploy four deepwater wind turbines12+ miles off Brunswick, Maine. 


The e-meeting was closed to the public, but was followed by a public teleconference, recounting that meeting.  Listen to  conference call (20 min mp3) See public tele-meeting transcript click here and below  Short description of BOEM process with "unsolicited"  offshore windpower applicants like Statoil.

Key topics reviewed by the Maine Ocean Energy Task Force included.
(1) The wording of a Request for Competitive Interest (RFCI), to be published to learn if any other energy companies are interested in the proposed location before moving forward with Statoil's application;
(2) A July issuance of a  Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Analysis. Whether to do a Environmental Impact Study or only an Environmental Assessment and 
(3) Upcoming meetings and events. Statoil will hold multiple public meetings in late June 2012. Then in July  BOEM will release its Request for Competitive Interest and its Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Analysis,   To get notification about the Statoil public meetings, contact:   (Statoil: Kari Hege Mork :email  Kahm at statoil dot com . To be notified of BOEM's  Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Analysis, and RFCI, contact  Aditi Mirani. Email:  Aditi.Mirani at boem dot gov.                                                              

PUBLIC CONFERENCE CALL After the close of the virtual Task Force meeting, Aditi Mirani of BOEM hosted  an 18 minute public conference call about the meeting.  Conference call attendees included:
Aditi Mirani & Randy Jones of BOEM
Michelle ___?__ from Coast Guard
Heather Parent,  Maine DEP Policy Director
Michael Ernst and Kathleen Miller of Tetra Tech
Suzanne McDonald Island Institute
Ron Huber, Penobscot Bay Watch
Kristen Amodt, Kari Hege Mork & Megan Kaiser of Statoil 

TRANSCRIPT START (edited for clarity)
Aditi Mirani BOEM Introduction  Let's go over a brief debrief of the intergovernmental task force meeting: We discussed the three main goals for issuing the Request for Competitive Interest:

1. Description of  proposal. Who is the applicant? What are they proposing? What type of technology: the who, what , where and how of it.

2. Public Input Get public input regarding proposal, including its potential environmental consequences and competitive interests for a commercial lease off Maine.

3. Last, the mechanism. When published in the federal register (estimated date mid to late July) it will be for 60 days. You can send in comments electronically via www.regulations.gov or via mail to BOEM's address

Mirani (continued)Then the Task Force discussed the requirements for those interested in submitting a nomination for a lease: a statement of their wish to acquire a commercial lease for the area; what the schedule is; any available pertinent resources, and documentation of proof of being financially qualified. We do a qualification scheck of the applicant.

Then the task force meeting discussed what kind of info we are looking for frominterested or affected  parties. For example geological info. Geophysical info.Physical conditions, historic or geological studies. Looking for any kind of alternative uses : navigation vessel traffic and commercial and recreational fisheries -we know thatis an important area, especially in Maine. Another example: archeological info; any other environmental economic information you think is relevant.   The last part of the Maine Task Force meeting was about the confidentiality of information supplied to its members.

I should mention that along with RFCI, we plan to at the same time issue a notice of intent to prepare an environmental analysis which will be a separate federal register notice but will be going out at the same time as the RFCI That was the nature of the discussion

That's really it. Questions?   (End of Mirani's summary)

QUESTIONS

Q. Ron Huber, Penobscot Bay Watch :Would that be an assessment of whether an EA or Environmental impact study would be done?
A. BOEM That'll be determined in the publication in the notice of intent It will tell  exactly what we intend to prepare. There will be a public comment opportunity between
30 to 120 days, that will be determined by the type of document we choose. In addition there will be public information sessions that we will conduct as part of our
scoping process. Statoil is planning to have their own public information session meeting during the week of June 25th. There are going to be held maybe in three or four
locations. so if anyone is interested in attending you can certainly do so I do not have the date information but Statoil's Kari Hege Mork will. There will be public notices published in the newspaper for the open house details.

Q . Ernst For the Statoil meeting?
A.  Yes.

Q. Ron Huber TheMaine  DEP person on this call was on the conference; Does that person have any insights to share?
A. Heather Parent, Maine DEP. At this point we don't have an application submitted for review. Once an application has been submitted to DEP we' ll be going forward with our environmental review. We'll be having independent public comment opportunities at that time.

Q. Suzanne McDonald, Island Institute. The RFCI once released will be published in the federal register. Will it be publicized through any other way, like one of the emails that will come out from you like the one announcing this meeting today?
A. BOEM. I think there will be a press release. Keep a look out in the federal register. I can probably also send a notice to the interested parties.

Q. Michael Ernst, Tetratech. Can you tell us the focus of the environmental analysis that you are beginning at the same time as the issuance of the request for competitive interest?

A. Randy Jones (sp?) - BOEM Environment Branch Here's a little about NEPA. The NEPA analysis will be focused on the proposed action but it will be scoped, and therefore, the answer to your question will be the results of the scoping meetings and the comments we receive as a result of the Notice of Intent .

You'll have much more information about our NEPA process when you get the Notice of Intent But the result of that scoping really will inform the full view of what we're looking at. So we'll be more prepared to answer that question fully when we get through with our scoping process.

Q. Michael Ernst , Tetratech. You mentioned that it is targeted to the specific action. Are you referring to the decision on Competitive interest Is that the specific action?
A. No I'm referring to the unsolicited proposal that BOEM received from Statoil

Aditi Mirani . Any other questions?

Q Ron Huber; A question to Statoil: How does this process stack up with the process for your Hywind project off Norway?
A. Megan Kaiser, Statoil. The only other Hywind demo we have right now is just a single demonstration project off the coast of Norway, It did not go through a similar process so it is difficult to compare. We feel confident we’ve been having a good dialog and with the task force and feel its progressing well.

Q. Ron Huber The fishermen do not think they been getting connected very well with Statoil.
A Mirani : that should be a subject for Statoil's meeting, not this one.

Q. Ron Huber Was there anyone from the municipalities at the task force meeting?
A. Mirani Yes. Bruce McDonald was there, Chris Rector was not there. The County Commissioner Jean Cloutier was there. Representative Michaud's staffer Rosemary Winslow and a representative of Senator Collins: Carol Woodcock. The town manager of Boothbay was there..

Q. Michael Ernst, Tetratech: Re the NEPA review announcement. I understand the agency whenever it takes a particular action or issues a significant decision, that appropriate NEPA review is required. If BOEM issues a determination of no competition interest, then Statoil will proceed to the next step in the BOEM process? That will proceed with them filing a COP  (Construction &Operation Plan) ?
A. BOEM: Then there will be an appropriate environmental review under NEPA for that process.

Q. Michael Ernst, Tetratech: My question is, by announcing this NEPA analysis in
conjunction with the request for competitive interest, are you focusing on a decision that will be made related to the determination of competitive interest? Or are you announcing your proposed environmental review for the entire process, including the COP
A. BOEM: What we received in the unsolicited proposal includes the information that would be necessary for us to conduct the review through decommissioning of that proposed project. This assumes that we are able to determine non competitive interest and proceed down that path. If it is determine there's no competitive interest we’ll complete the environmental analysis based on the entirety of the proposed project - from lease issuance all the way through  decommissioning.

The other possibility. although not going to make any indications that it may or may not be, is that there IS some competitive interest. In that case we would have to reconsider and revise our notice of Intent and reform our environmental analysis around a structure that looks like our "Smart From The Start" program for the midatlantic states. But the short answer is we are trying to issue the RFCI and the Notice of Intent at the same time to build efficiencies into the time scheduled for this project.

We aren't predetermining the outcome of either the RFCI or the NEPA analysis but we are initiating them concurrently so that we can gather this information from you and other interested parties very early in the process. And so that we can complete it more efficiently. Does that answer your questions?

A Ernst Yes.

Q Aditi Mirani: Are there any more questions before we wrap up? 
(15 second silence)

A (multiple persons:) Thank you.

END OF EDITED TRANSCRIPT

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