Interior expects ‘minor’ whale impact from Maine wind sale

By Heather Richards | 06/21/2024 01:33 PM EDT

The Biden administration will offer 1 million acres of the Gulf of Maine to wind developers.

Lobster fishermen working at sunrise.

A lobstering boat works at sunrise on Sept. 8, 2022, in the Gulf of Maine off Kennebunkport. Robert F. Bukaty/AP

Ahead of a first ever offshore wind sale in the Gulf of Maine, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management says a sale will have a “minor” effect on marine mammals and commercial fishing.

The agency released a draft environmental assessment Friday of how selling wind leases off the coast of Maine could result in disturbances to whales, fish and the ocean ecosystem.

Wind surveys — such as geophysical surveys, for example, that developers use to map the ocean floor — could have “minor” impacts on whales as well as “negligible to minor” impacts on sea turtles, commercial fishing and navigation. Areas virtually unaffected by offshore wind lease sales would be recreation and archaeological sites in the Gulf of Maine, according to the BOEM analysis.


The environment review comes ahead of a significant foray into offshore wind for the state later this year, when the Biden administration will offer roughly 1 million acres of the Gulf of Maine to offshore wind developers. A second auction is planned for 2028. The environmental assessment released Friday covers the entire area identified for potential wind sales, comprising roughly 2 million acres of the Gulf.