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Watchdog group finds Biden administration waived cleanup fees for offshore wind project

The fee ensures the company will return the offshore area back to its original state. Meanwhile, the Biden admin is looking to increase similar fees for oil and gas projects.

Published: November 29, 2023 12:30pm

Updated: November 29, 2023 12:31pm

While the Biden administration is looking to increase bonding requirements for oil and gas projects on public land, it’s reportedly waiving similar protections on offshore wind projects.

The watchdog group Protect the Public’s Trust obtained documents showing that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management waived a decommissioning fee for the Vineyard Wind project off the coast of Massachusetts, in June 2021, according to Fox News.

The fee provides a guarantee that the public land will be returned to the original state after the lessee departs its lease. The waiver allowed the company to avoid these fees for 15 years.

According to a 2021 financial disclosure form filed by Deputy Interior Secretary Tommy Beadreau, he was a partner at Latham & Watkins which represented Vineyard Wind in legal matters.

One week after BOEM, which is under the Interior Department, approved Vineyard Wind’s request to have the fee waived, Beadreau was sworn into the second highest position at the agency.

Beadreau told Fox News he wasn’t involved in the company’s waiver request and so there was no conflict of interest.

In July, the administration proposed increasing bonding requirements for oil and gas projects on federal land, which ensures wells are properly plugged after they’re no longer producing.