WASHINGTON (March 8, 2021) – The Bureau of Ocean Management (BOEM) has completed its environmental review of the proposed Vineyard Wind I project off the coast of Massachusetts, bringing it one step closer to final approval of the largest offshore wind project to date in the United States. The findings show that the project has taken care to reduce impact to migratory birds.
“As the lives of billions of birds hang in the balance due to climate change, responsibly sited and reviewed clean energy projects like Vineyard Wind are critical to their survival,” said Garry George, director of the National Audubon Society’s Clean Energy Initiative. “We look forward to working with Vineyard Wind to ensure that the project continues to move forward in a way that avoids, minimizes, and mitigates the impact on the environment.”
The Vineyard Wind I project will deliver 800MW of energy to up to 800,000 homes. The National Audubon Society sought for the following provisions to be met:
- Measures to estimate impacts to marine birds and migratory birds protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA), prioritizing endangered Roseate Tern, Red Knot and Piping Plover;
- Best Management Practices (BMPs) and other measures to avoid and minimize impacts to these birds; and
- Develop and implement new technologies to monitor the presence of these birds in the project site and their interactions with the turbines, including collision and displacement, and using standardized data collection before and during construction, and during operation for comparison across all projects in the Atlantic.
BOEM responded to Audubon’s provisions by requiring that Vineyard Wind develop a monitoring program that includes pre- and post-construction avian surveys, installation of radio telemetry receivers within the project area, the deployment of radio transmitter backpacks to species of concern that may interact with the Vineyard Wind I project, and the use of additional monitoring technologies as they become available.
BOEM further acknowledges that the results of this monitoring program should be publicly available and used within an adaptive management strategy in which additional mitigation measures are applied if observed impacts to birds are greater than anticipated. Additionally, the project is well-sited to avoid the most important offshore habitats for marine birds, based on the best available science.
Audubon will continue to engage with developers and regulatory agencies to develop and implement standardized monitoring frameworks across projects, so that offshore wind can be developed efficiently and responsibly.
“While there is still much work to be done to hold off the worst effects of climate change, projects like Vineyard Wind are important to help us reach our zero-carbon goals,” said George. “This project shows that it’s entirely possible to boldly pursue a cleaner future while acting responsibly toward wildlife.”
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.
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