Mid-AtlanticWelcome to Surfrider in the Mid-Atlantic! Here you can find Surfrider news and information from the five states of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia plus Washington DC. More Details
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body met this week near Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore on May 20th and 21st. The main goal for the meeting was to finalize the RPB’s Regional Ocean Planning Framework (Framework). The agenda for the meeting can be seen here.
The meeting was well attended by RPB members and the public alike. Representatives from the environmental community, fishing, offshore wind power, academia, and oil and gas were present. Matt Gove, Mid-Atlantic Policy Manager for Surfrider, commented on the need to finalize a Regional Ocean Action Plan for the Mid-Atlantic by 2016 at the latest.
Besides approving a final version of the Framework, the RPB created working groups to begin investigating options for creating a Regional Ocean Assessment and an Ocean Action Plan, as well as finalizing a Stakeholder Engagement Strategy.
You can get involved by attending the next meeting, slated for late fall 2014, or email comments on any of the RPB’s processes to MidAtlanticRPB@boem.gov. Additionally, the MARCO Ocean Data Portal will begin hosting online webinars the first Tuesday of each month to demonstrate the many uses of the Portal.
Offshore Wind at the Federal Level and in Your State
Keeping up with offshore wind power developments is a full-time job. We summarized the latest happenings from each state in the Mid-Atlantic and provide links to tons of great additional information. We also put together a summary of how the federal government manages offshore wind power. Another great resource for understanding offshore wind is MARCO’s Guide to State Management of Offshore Wind Energy.
Virginia appears to be closest to having an operating commercial offshore wind project in the Mid-Atlantic, or at least, has the most projects in various stages of progression. The Wind Energy Area offshore Virginia begins approximately 20 nautical miles from Virginia Beach, comprising 165 square nautical miles in total. For the details on these various projects click here. After confirming there weren’t any competitive interests, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced that Virginia’s Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy is cleared to submit a formal proposal to erect two 6 megawatt research turbines which will inform the future production of renewable energy within the WEA.
The move comes after BOEM auctioned 113,000 acres off the Virginia coast to Dominion Virginia Power in September of 2013 during the nation’s second-ever competitive auction for offshore wind. Dominion will have six months to submit a Site Assessment Plan (SAP), describing the activities (e.g., installation of meteorological towers and buoys) they plan to perform for the assessment of the wind resources and ocean conditions. After a SAP is approved, the lessee will have up to four and a half years in which to submit a Construction and Operations Plan (COP), which provides a detailed outline for the construction and operation of a wind energy project on the lease. If the COP is approved, the lessee will have an operations term of 33 years.
On Dec. 17, 2013, BOEM announced the publication of a Proposed Sale Notice to auction two Wind Energy Area (WEA) leases offshore Maryland for commercial wind energy development. The WEA is approximately 10 nautical miles from Ocean City, comprising 207 square nautical miles in total. See map here.
In response to this proposed sale, BOEM received 19 comment submissions and seven additional qualification packages from companies wishing to participate in the auction. Public comments received are available by clicking here. BOEM will consider these comments received in preparing a Final Sale Notice (FSN), which will provide the final details of the lease sale for the Maryland WEA, to be held sometime in 2014.
The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) recently announced a $700,000 initiative to help state businesses enter the global offshore wind market. The grant program is meant to spur industrial innovation and growth of Maryland companies seeking their first entry into the offshore wind market. Additionally, Governor O’Malley passed legislation calling for future projects.
BOEM reached an agreement on October 23, 2012 for a commercial wind energy lease with Bluewater Wind Delaware, LLC for an area of the OCS offshore Delaware within the Wind Energy Area (WEA). The current status of this project in unclear. The Delaware WEA is located approximately 11 nautical miles east of Dewey Beach, comprising 122 square nautical miles in total. It is located between the incoming and outgoing shipping routes for Delaware Bay. See map.
In April 2011, BOEM published a Call for Information and Nominations for Commercial Leasing for Wind Power in New Jersey’s Wind Energy Area (WEA). In response, BOEM received 11 indications of interest to obtain a commercial lease. Based on comments received, BOEM has determined that competitive interest exists for wind energy development offshore New Jersey. BOEM is working to publish a “Proposed Sale Notice,” which will provide proposed lease terms and conditions, as well as details regarding how the lease sale could be conducted. The sixth meeting of the New Jersey Renewable Energy Task Force is scheduled for April 22 via webinar. The New Jersey WEA begins 7 nautical miles from the shore, comprising 418 square nautical miles in total. See map.
Another offshore wind-related project beginning in New Jersey has implications for other states. The New Jersey Energy Link, part of the larger proposed Atlantic Wind Connection, is a 3,000-megawatt-capacity backbone transmission system for offshore wind projects that will run between southern and northern New Jersey. It has been cleared by BOEM, and New Jersey just announced a port facility renovation to streamline its construction.
New Jersey is also pursuing wind projects in their state waters. The furthest along, Atlantic City/Fishermen’s Energy, proposes a 25-megawatt pilot project located 2.8 miles off the coast of Atlantic City. That proposal had a recent setback however, as the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) rejected their plan. Fishermen’s Energy was attempting to become the first offshore wind developer to be approved under New Jersey’s Offshore Wind Economic Development Act (OWEDA), a state-based allocation system signed into law by Governor Christie in 2010.
The New York Power Authority (NYPA), Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), and Consolidated Edison (ConEd) formed a collaborative in 2011, proposing an offshore wind power project approximately 13 miles off the Rockaways. The proposal includes the installation of up to 194, 3.6 megawatt (MW) wind turbines, yielding a potential 700 MW of wind energy generation.
On January 4, 2013, BOEM issued a Request for Interest to assess whether there are other parties interested in developing commercial wind facilities in the same area. Public comments and indications of interest received can be viewed here. BOEM received indications of interest from Fishermen’s Energy, LLC and Energy Management, Inc. BOEM initiated a review of the submissions and will make a determination of competitive interest after the review is concluded.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorizes the Secretary of the Department of the Interior (DOI) to grant leases on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) (3-200 miles offshore) for alternative energy projects, including offshore wind energy projects. The Secretary then delegated this authority to the Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).
In February 2011 the DOI unveiled a coordinated strategic plan, A National Offshore Wind Strategy: Creating an Offshore Wind Industry in the United States, as well as announced the creation of priority Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) through the Smart from the Start Initiative. WEAs have been identified offshore of four states in the Mid- Atlantic: Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia. BOEM then set up Renewable Energy Task Forces in each Mid-Atlantic state, which bring stakeholders and government agencies together to discuss offshore wind power.
Once projects get through the initial permitting processes, each will be required to supply detailed construction and operation plans, environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and public reviews. In addition to NEPA, other environmental legislation needs to be satisfied for each project, these include the: Coastal Zone Management Act, Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Essential Fish Habitat), National Historic Preservation Act (Section 106), Endangered Species Act (Section 7), Clean Air Act, and Migratory Birds Treaty Act.
You may have heard about a new coastal and ocean management body forming in the Mid-Atlantic called the RPB, or Regional Planning Body. The name itself doesn’t tell you much, but this new entity is worth understanding as their mission is revolutionary when it comes to what happens to our beloved beaches and oceans!
In 2010, President Obama signed an executive order calling for the formation of nine Regional Planning Bodies (RPBs) along the U.S. coastline. The idea was that each of these RPBs would bring to one table the many state and federal agencies that manage our coasts and oceans. These various agencies have overlapping and complimentary authorities, but rarely communicate effectively with each other. Each RPB is tasked with comprehensively managing and protecting our ocean resources, while providing for the development of new ocean uses like offshore wind power.
The Mid-Atlantic RPB (M-A RPB) formed in 2013 and is working on a founding document that will set out a work plan for the body over the coming years. It is an important time to make sure the voice of surfers and other recreational users is heard by the M-A RPB. The public has until April 15th to comment on this document. The next public meeting of this body will be May 21st and 22nd at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland—stay tuned for more details on this important governing body!
DC: The DC Chapter launched a campaign to ban expanded polystyrene foam, (aka Styrofoam) in our nation’s capitol, and tagging photos on Instagram is part of their game plan. By using a WordPress Plugin on their website, all photos tagged with #banthefoamdc will appear on the Chapter’s website. It also works through the Chapter’s Twitter account. See the tagged photos here. Great use of technology!
DE: The Delaware Chapter recently increased its exposure in the local media by releasing a report on the state of surfing in Delaware as well as organizing a press conference to draw attention to a proposed ocean outfall off Rehoboth Beach, DE. Both events garnered solid press coverage, shining the media’s light on two major issues in the state. Consider doing something similar in your area to get more attention on an issue your local Chapter is working on!
NY: The New York City Chapter joined forces with other groups to continue to push for a fee on plastic bags sold in NYC. They started a website specifically for the cause, turned people out for a press event, and created an Action Alert to get their members to contact elected officials about the issue. Great work!
If so, show up to the various public meetings going on in the Mid-Atlantic over the next couple of months, hosted by the newly formed Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body (RPB). Let your voice be heard!
The RPB will be taking public comments on its role in managing the Mid-Atlantic’s coastal and ocean areas. This is a huge opportunity to protect your favorite coastal spot–don’t let other interests (like oil and gas) dominate these meetings!
Maryland: Monday, February 24, from 1:00 to 3:30 pm and 5:00 to 7:30 pm at the Marriott Waterfront; located at 80 Compromise Street, Annapolis.
Delaware: Thursday, February 27, from 5:00 to 7:30 pm at the DE Dept. of Natural Resources (DNREC); located at 901 Pilottown Road, Lewes.
Virginia: Thursday, March 20, from 1:30 to 4:00 pm and from 5:00 to 7:30 pm at the Sheraton Waterside Hotel; located at 777 Waterside Drive, Norfolk.
New York: Monday, April 7, from 1:00 to 3:30 pm and 5:00 to 7:30 pm at the Culinary Arts Center; located at 20 East Main Street, Riverhead.
New Jersey: Thursday, March 27, from 1:00 to 3:30 pm. and 5:00 to 7:30 pm at Monmouth University, Samuel Magill Commons, Club Dining Room, 400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch.
Most surfers have seen beach fill projects on their section of the coast, with differing outcomes for local surf breaks. But what about the critters that live in the beach sand and get buried? A new study in Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science by Viola, S.M., et al. seeks to answer at least a part of that question.
The study, Burrowing inhibition by fine textured beach fill: Implications for recovery of beach ecosystems, compared critters’ ability to move through various grain sizes of fill materials and beach sand.
They found that when incongruous fill (either too large or too small) is placed on a beach, that fill “significantly inhibited burrowing of characteristic species from all intertidal zones, including sand crabs, clams, polychaetes, isopods, and talitrid amphipods. Burrowing performance of all five species we tested was consistently reduced in the fill material and burrowing was completely inhibited for several species.”
These various beach critters are integral to the beach ecosystem as a whole. The reduction in burrowing ability stresses the animals out, reduces their survival and slows recovery of the beach ecosystem after fills, as many other animals rely on these critters for food. This study shows how beach fills can severely affect critters living in the sand on your beach, as well as the whole beach ecosystem.
If beach fill projects are happening in your area, this study highlights the need for thorough investigation of proposed grain sizes and perhaps monitoring of the beach ecosystem for recovery post-fill.
VA: The Virginia Beach Chapter partnered with local surf shop Wave Riding Vehicles on November 16th and signed up 21 new members in one morning! They convinced the shop to give 15% off to anyone that became a Surfrider Member, a powerful incentive. They also threw in a drink koozie and a Beach in a Bag, and promoted the event through MailChimp and their website. Check out some pictures on Facebook.
NJ: The South Jersey Chapter partnered with Anchor Arts Studio to increase their membership. For $45, participants were instructed in how to paint an original work plus got a Surfrider membership and some other goodies. An inventive way to attract new members and reach out to the community.
NJ: The Jersey Shore Chapter created a website to counter the strong urge to rebuild—in exactly the same manner—coastal infrastructure after Superstorm Sandy. The website, called Re-Think the Coast, promotes new and alternative ways of keeping coastal communities safe. If your current or future campaigns involve beachfill, shoreline armoring, or stopping unwise coastal development, this could be a resource for you and your members.
This summer Surfrider chapters in New York and New Jersey jumped into action to fight a proposed LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) Deepwater Port (known as “Port Ambrose”) proposed 17 miles southeast of Jones Beach, New York and 24 miles east of Long Branch, New Jersey. Representatives from local chapters showed up and spoke at hearings held on July 9 and 10, 2013, in Long Beach, NY, and Edison, NJ. For more details check out this document.
Members were concerned that the port could: create air and water pollution; harm marine life; be an attractive terrorist target; disrupt shipping to and from the Port of New York; exclude fishermen from fishing grounds; conflict with a wind turbine project proposed for the same area; and lead to increased fracking upstate. These hazards and more were identified by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie when he vetoed this project in 2011 and reaffirmed his veto in 2012.
Surfrider members also were active online, submitting 813 comments to Governors Christie and Cuomo. Those comments were part of more than 18,000 submitted against the project. You can still submit a comment to Cuomo here and Christie here—eithergovernor can veto this project but as yet have not.
Further south, the Dominion Cove Point LNG facility, built to import LNG and located in Lusby, Maryland on Chesapeake Bay, wants to switch to exporting. On September 11, 2013 the company received one of the approvals they need from the Energy Department. They still require a permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
If built, the refurbished Cove Point would be the first liquefied natural gas export facility on the East Coast. The project would cost upwards of $3.8 billion dollars and require the construction of a new power plant on site to provide power to cool and liquefy the gas. The facility would enable the export of .77 billion cubic feet of carbon-emitting, fracked natural gas per day.
Learn all about a new Mid-Atlantic ocean planning body and how you can let them know the importance of surfing to our coastal communities, economy, and culture.
What: Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body Public Meetings
When: 10:30AM-7PM Wednesday and 9:30AM-5:30PM Thursday September 24-25
Where: Wilson Hall Auditorium, Monmouth University, 400 Cedar Avenue, West Long Branch, New Jersey, 07764
Who: Anyone Who Cares About Our Ocean and Coasts! Click here to RSVP.
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body, or RPB, is a newly formed round-table of state, federal, and tribal government representatives who are tasked with creating a comprehensive plan for Mid-Atlantic coasts and oceans. For more information about the RPB process click here. To RSVP for the public meetings click here.
Make your voice heard by sending the RPB your thoughts either by email or by showing up and giving comments at the public meeting. Let the RPB know that recreational uses should be protected and promoted in the regional ocean plan.
Some suggestions for comments:
- Current recreational uses such as diving, boating, kayaking, fishing, bird watching, and surfing need to be protected. Such sustainable uses are critical to our coastal communities, economy, and culture.
- Regional ocean planning will create a blueprint that can ensure that we identify ocean areas that are appropriate for industrial use while maintaining current uses and protecting habitat and wildlife.
- The RPB should appoint a stakeholder advisory panel to provide regular input and advice from recreational users and ensure that meetings and materials are open to the public.
Major topics for the meeting include: how best to engage stakeholders, what regional ocean goals should be, what the planning area boundaries should be, what data are currently available, and what should be covered in the RPB’s charter.
The East Coast Regional Surfrider meeting will take place October 11-13, 2013 in Virginia Beach, VA. The annual meeting is a chance for Surfrider volunteers to learn effective chapter skills, gain knowledge on ocean topics, as well as meet other chapter folks and regional staff. Talk to your chapter executive committee members if you are interested in attending, as there is a limited amount of space.
NY: The Eastern Long Island Chapter wanted to start a Blue Water Task Force (BWTF) water quality testing program but the costs were prohibitive. To get around that issue the chapter partnered with Concerned Citizens of Montauk, a local advocacy group who agreed to share costs with them. The chapter also made water testing the focus of their yearly fundraiser, showing attendees exactly what their money would be used for–a great strategy for fundraising. See their testing results here.
NJ: The Jersey Shore Chapter of Surfrider is concerned about the many post-Sandy beach fill (“renourishment”) projects happening in their area. To keep track of the various projects, the chapter is organizing volunteers to monitor and document beach conditions prior to, and after beach fills by taking sand samples and video evidence. The chapter will then be in the position to alert government authorities if beach slopes are not formed correctly or if poor sand is being used. For more Information visit their website.