The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has approved Rhode Island's plan for offshore energy development. The state's Ocean Special Area Management Plan (Ocean SAMP) improves state review processes and policies to facilitate the development of offshore projects.
The Ocean SAMP area spans approximately 1,467 square miles over portions of the Block Island Sound, Rhode Island Sound and Atlantic Ocean. The plan was developed over the two years by the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council with assistance of the University of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Sea Grant program and Roger Williams University, along with significant input from many other state, federal, tribal and local agencies.
With the NOAA's approval of the Ocean SAMP, Rhode Island becomes the first state to have incorporated a comprehensive ocean SAMP in its coastal zone management program. This approval means that enforceable policies in the Ocean SAMP for protecting habitats and existing activities such as fishing, and identifying areas suitable for energy projects may be applied to federal actions in federal waters.
‘Once again, the Ocean State is leading the nation in creating a plan for using ocean resources to create and sustain jobs, help our state build renewable energy, and continue to preserve the historic fishing, transportation, recreation and other uses of the ocean that Rhode Islanders so treasure,’ says Gov. Lincoln Chafee, I-R.I. ‘This plan will help our state reach its 15 percent renewable energy goal and continue to protect the coastal areas that drive tourism to our state.’
The Ocean SAMP provides a comprehensive understanding of Rhode Island's complex and rich ecosystems. It covers topics including renewable energy and other offshore development, marine transportation and infrastructure, cultural and historic resources, and global climate change, according to the NOAA.