The Department of Energy’s Draft Report to Congress on the Environmental Effects of Marine and Hydrokinetic Energy Projects is now available for public comment. The report, prepared pursuant to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (“EISA”), describes (1) the potential environmental impacts of marine and hydrokinetic energy technologies; (2) options to mitigate and prevent adverse environmental impacts; (3) the role of monitoring and adaptive management; and (4) the key elements of an adaptive management program. Comments are due on December 9, 2008.   

The EISA report describes the various conceptual designs for generating electricity from ocean waves, river and tidal currents, and ocean thermal energy conversion, and identifies several “common elements” among the technologies that it asserts could yield adverse environmental effects. The report’s analyses are based largely on predictive studies or environmental assessments that have not yet been verified. As a result, the EISA report is not a definitive assessment of known environmental impacts, but rather an effort to highlight potential areas of concern for further monitoring and testing. 


The EISA report also lists several strategies for mitigating and preventing risks of potential environmental impacts associated with marine and hydrokinetic energy projects. Advocating that more research and testing is needed, it stresses the importance of using post-installation environmental monitoring and adaptive management to confirm the extent of anticipated impacts and determine appropriate methods to avoid, minimize, or mitigate for any unacceptable adverse effects.