Streamlining licensing for pilot Marine Renewable Energy
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University of Washington Abstract Streamlining licensing for pilot Marine Renewable Energy Trina Blake Chair of the Supervisory Committee: Andrea E. Copping, PhD School of Marine and Environmental Affairs Marine renewable energy (MRE), a potential source of clean energy in mitigating climate change, is in the early stages of commercial development in Europe and is not yet established in the United States (US). Because it is a vast and powerful resource, the federal government, scientists and entrepreneurs, have worked and invested in attempts to deploy. But even with assessment reports, studies, legislative attempts, and millions of dollars spent, there are no pilot, commercial or full-scale marine energy projects installed in the United States at the time of this writing. With the impacts of climate change already changing the ocean environment, it is important to investigate why this is the case. The methods used for this thesis include an examination of the applicable legislative and regulatory tools, interviews with experts in the MHK and regulatory field, and a review of appropriate literature. The interviews, conducted in person and via phone and email, were informal, and semi-structured. The results indicate an overarching need for national leadership in the form of a national policy on ocean governance, including a federal energy program. However, the political reality is that no such policy is on the near-term horizon. Therefore, after reviewing MRE, climate change, legal and permitting basics, the thesis discusses other ideas to streamline pilot MHK licensing that can be accomplished with current laws and regulations. Most of these changes are directed at NOAA Fisheries, which applies required laws and regulations to individual pilot MRE projects. It appears that the regulatory staff tends to be risk-adverse and have no incentive to facilitate permitting. Finally, the thesis argues for required use of proportional risk, balance and climate change evidence in pilot MRE licensing.
- Marine affairs