From our colleague Cherise Oram:

Secretary of Interior (DOI) Ken Salazar and Acting Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Jon Wellinghoff have announced an agreement describing how the two agencies will work together to facilitate permitting renewable energy – particularly ocean wave and current projects – on the outer continental shelf (OCS). The announcement indicates that DOI’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) will retain leasing authority for ocean wave and current projects on the OCS, but that FERC will have the “primary responsibility to manage the licensing of such projects” pursuant to the Federal Power Act (FPA) hydropower licensing provisions. FERC has long asserted that the FPA gives it concurrent jurisdiction with MMS’s leasing authority. The announcement indicates that the agencies will sign a more detailed Memorandum of Understanding describing how the agencies will coordinating their licensing and leasing processes for offshore projects.

This announcement comes just as Secretary Salazar, FERC Commissioner Philip Moeller and others were to testify before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on offshore renewable energy, including the jurisdictional debate between MMS and FERC.

Finally, Secretary Salazar has announced more detailed information on the four regional offshore renewable energy meetings he plans to hold April 6-16 in Atlantic City, New Orleans, Anchorage and San Francisco. For detailed information, see Secretary Salazar’s Invitation to Regional Meetings on Offshore Energy Development.