The National Sea Grant Law Center


  • U.S. Department of Interior Proposes First Ever Offshore Wind Lease Sale in Gulf of Mexico

  • April 3rd, 2023 — by Emma Tompkins — Category: Offshore Energy

  • The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), a division of the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), is proposing the first-ever offshore wind lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico. The announcement follows the Biden administration’s plan to grow the country’s clean energy economy by expanding offshore wind opportunities across the country. (Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Actions to Expand U.S. Offshore Wind Energy).

    BOEM utilizes its renewable energy Area Identification process to identify the offshore locations that appear most suitable for commercial wind energy activities, taking into consideration potential impact to ocean resources and users. The most suitable areas that present the fewest apparent environmental and user conflicts are identified by BOEM as Wind Energy Areas (WEA). (BOEM Designates Two Wind Energy Areas in Gulf of Mexico). BOEM began the Area Identification process in the Gulf of Mexico in late 2021, following findings from government studies that show the Gulf of Mexico’s shallow waters and proximity to oil and gas infrastructure make it promising for expansion of a new offshore industry.

    In October 2022, BOEM issued final WEAs within the Louisiana and Texas Coast Regions. The Louisiana Coast WEA is located approximately fifty-six nautical miles off the coast of Lake Charles covering 188,023 acres and has the potential to power 799,000 homes, while the two Texas Coast Region WEAs located approximately twenty-four nautical miles off the coast of Galveston are comprised of a total of 546,645 acres and have the potential to power nearly 2.3 million homes with clean wind energy. (88 Fed. Reg. 11939).

    On February 23, 2023, BOEM published a Proposed Sale Notice for the commercial leasing areas previously identified as WEAs for wind power development on the outer continental shelf in the Gulf of Mexico. The proposed Lease Areas include a 102,481-acre portion of the WEA offshore Lake Charles, Louisiana, and two WEAs totaling a combined 199,266 acres offshore Galveston, Texas. (88 Fed. Reg. 11940). Together, the proposed Lease Areas have the potential to produce enough wind energy to power 1.3 million homes. (Press Release, Interior Department Proposes First-Ever Offshore Wind Sale in Gulf of Mexico).

    The proposed sale is part of the leasing project announced by the DOI in 2021 to meet the Biden administration’s goal to deploy thirty gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030. Since 2021, the DOI has held three offshore wind lease auctions, initiated environmental review of ten offshore wind projects, and advanced the process to explore addition WEAs in Oregon, Gulf of Maine, and the Central Atlantic. Additionally, the growing wind energy industry is expected to provide Americans with cleaner and more cost-efficient energy, create thousands of well-paying jobs, and invest billions in new American energy supply chains, manufacturing, and servicing. (Press Release).

    BOEM is accepting comments from the public on the proposed sale until April 25, 2023. BOEM encourages stakeholders to submit comments on which, if any, of the two lease areas offshore Galveston should be offered in the Final Sale Notice. BOEM is also seeking feedback on several lease stipulations that would affirm the Bureau’s commitment to create jobs for American workers and engage with ocean users and other stakeholders. Some of the proposed stipulations include: offering bidding credits to bidders that commit to supporting workforce training programs for the offshore wind industry, developing a domestic supply chain for the offshore wind industry, or a combination of both; establishing and contributing to a fisheries compensatory mitigation fund or contributing to an existing fund to mitigate potential negative impacts to commercial and for-hire recreational fisheries caused by offshore wind development; and requiring that lessees provide a regular progress report summarizing engagement with ocean users potentially affected by offshore wind activities. After the expiration of the sixty-day public comment period, BOEM will prepare the Final Sale Notice to be published in the Federal Register at least thirty calendar days before the date of the sale. Bidding on the project is set to begin shortly thereafter. (88 Fed. Reg. 11942-46).

    To comment on the proposed sale, visit and search for docket number BOEM-2023-0021.

  • Emma Tompkins
    NSGLC Research Associate

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