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Survey planned of Atlantic wind energy projects' effects on tourism

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How will Atlantic offshore wind energy development affect coastal recreation and tourism? The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) of the U.S. Department of the Interior wants to know and plans to survey the public. BOEM announced in the Federal Register of Tuesday, July 1 that it plans to conduct a survey titled Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Development: Public Attitudes, Values, and Implications for Tourism and Recreation.

To comply with the federal Paperwork Reduction Act, BOEM needs permission from the Office of Management & Budget to take the survey and is taking public comments. Send them by Sept. 2 to Arlene Bajusz, information collection clearance officer, BOEM, 381 Elden St., HM-3127, Herndon, VA 20170, arlene.bajusz@boem.gov. Fax (703) 787-1209. Refer to 1010-New. If you have questions, call Bajusz at (703) 787-1025.

BOEM is authorized by law to allow wind energy development projects in federal waters of the Outer Continental Shelf of the Atlantic. But it must first consider their impact on recreational and cultural resources. The agency acknowledges that no major study has been done on the issue and it doesn't know enough about it. But interest in the energy development has increased in the last few years.

Under a cooperative agreement with BOEM, the University of Delaware will conduct the survey, which will cover the area between Massachusetts and South Carolina. The university will ask people how they think the project will affect recreational activities and people's choice of where to vacation. The plan calls for two online surveys. One will question people who have visited a beach within the last three years and one will seek data from those who have not.

People will be asked about wind energy projects near beaches and demographic information about themselves. They will only be interviewed once. The university wants to survey 1,400 beach goers for about 20 minutes each and 360 non-beach goers for about 10 minutes a person. Participation will be voluntary.

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