By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 18, 2009; Page A03
The Interior Department and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will divide responsibility for regulating offshore alternative energy sources such as wind and wave power, ending an interagency turf battle.
In a joint statement, the agencies said they will draw up "a short Memorandum of Understanding" that gives Interior the right to decide on wind power proposals in federal waters, while FERC will oversee wave, tidal and ocean-current projects. Officials had quarreled for a year and a half over whether Interior's Minerals Management Service would add jurisdiction over water-powered projects to its supervision of offshore windmill development.
"Our renewable energy is too important for bureaucratic turf battles to slow down our progress," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement yesterday. "This agreement will help sweep aside red tape so that our country can capture the great power of wave, tidal, wind and solar power off our coasts."
Interior oversees offshore oil drilling as well as dredging of sand and gravel for commercial purposes, while FERC has traditionally handled wave, tidal and ocean-current applications. Last fiscal year, the commission received 25 such applications, which are pending. It has gotten two this year, and so far it has approved a river-current project in Hastings, Minn., and a tidal venture in Makah Bay, Wash.