Federal government says no significant environment impact in N. Carolina offshore wind leasing

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WILMINGTON, North Carolina — A federal government review says there will be no significant environmental or socioeconomic impacts in leasing tracts off the North Carolina coast for wind energy development.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is proposing three tracts off the coast for wind energy — one off Kitty Hawk on the Outer Banks and two in the Cape Fear area near Wilmington, The StarNews of Wilmington reported (http://bit.ly/1iulItk).

The sites off southeastern North Carolina include a roughly 130,000-acre tract south of Bald Head Island and a nearly 50,000-acre tract south of the Brunswick County coast. Bringing more renewable energy sources to the state is part of President Barack Obama's national Climate Action Plan.

The bureau said its final proposal will also include measures to keep turbines from interfering with marine life and migratory birds. The blades can reach up to 40 stories tall.

In February, state Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Donald van der Vaart sent a letter to the bureau asking it not to allow turbines within 24 nautical miles of shore, saying the turbines could hurt tourism and marine habitats.

The Brunswick County Commissioners have also asked the bureau for more information about the impacts of turbines.

The bureau's North Carolina Renewable Energy Task Force will hold a meeting Oct. 7 in Wilmington to discuss holding an auction for leasing tracts to wind energy companies.

Information from: The StarNews, http://starnewsonline.com

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