We reviewed the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) received December 7, 2018, and published under the Federal Register Docket No. BOEM-2018-0069 regarding the Construction and Operation Plan (COP) submitted by Vineyard Wind LLC (Vineyard Wind) for the construction, operation, maintenance, and decommissioning of a commercial scale offshore wind facility within Lease Area OCS-A-0501. We conducted this review from a unique perspective: not only are we a cooperating agency with expert understanding and jurisdiction over marine trust resources, but we are also a consulting agency under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) and Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), as well as an action agency to the extent NOAA provides Incidental Take Authorization (ITA) under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). Accordingly, this National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) document must also satisfy important NOAA specific priorities, perhaps the most prominent being that this DEIS must be sufficient to satisfy NOAA’s own legal NEPA responsibilities as part of the agency’s MMPA ITA analysis. Provided we determine the document is sufficient to do so, we intend to rely on and adopt your FEIS to satisfy our independent legal obligations to prepare an adequate and sufficient NEPA analysis in support our proposal to issue the ITA for this project. This approach is directed by the One Federal Decision policy under Executive Order 13807.
This letter provides an overview of our most significant comments and concerns related to the DEIS. Specific comments by section are provided as an attachment to this letter (Attachment A). We are providing these comments to you now because, as noted in our February 22, 2019, letter, the January government furlough prevented us from completing our review and providing comments to you earlier. We consider these comments to be a priority as you work to develop the FEIS for the project.