This Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) assesses the reasonably foreseeable impacts on physical, biological, socioeconomic, and cultural resources that could result from the construction and installation, operations and maintenance (O&M), and conceptual decommissioning of two commercial- scale offshore wind energy facilities (Empire Wind 1 [EW 1] and Empire Wind 2 [EW 2]). Collectively, EW 1 and EW 2 are referred to as the Projects, as proposed by Empire Offshore Wind, LLC (Empire) in its Construction and Operations Plan (COP). The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has prepared the Draft EIS under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 U.S. Code [USC] 4321–4370f). This Draft EIS will inform BOEM’s decision on whether to approve, approve with modifications, or disapprove the Projects’ COP.
Cooperating agencies may rely on this Draft EIS to support their decision-making. In conjunction with submitting its COP, Empire (the Applicant) applied to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for an incidental take authorization under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) of 1972, as amended (16 USC 1361 et seq.), for incidental take of marine mammals during the Projects’ construction. NMFS is required to review applications and, if appropriate, issue an incidental take authorization under the MMPA. NMFS intends to adopt the Final EIS if, after independent review and analysis, NMFS determines the Final EIS to be sufficient to support the authorization. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) similarly intends to adopt the EIS to meet its responsibilities under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (RHA).
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