Ocean of Uncertainty: Regulatory Barriers to Multiple Uses in Federal Waters
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Ocean of Uncertainty: Regulatory Barriers to Multiple Uses in Federal Waters

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    The potential for coexisting uses in offshore waters is great, but regulatory framework and federalism concerns exist that prevent zoning the oceans to allow for coexisting uses to reach their full potential. This paper seeks to anticipate and expand upon the potential benefits, consequences, and unknown variables in future development of offshore wind mixed use zones in federal waters off the coast of Virginia. Part I provides a brief introduction to offshore wind, offshore aquaculture, and the current regulatory framework that governs each of those ocean uses. Part II takes a deep dive into attempts to simplify regulatory oversight of mixed offshore uses, including failed congressional attempts, regional collaborations, and state/federal partnerships. Part III considers case studies of projects in Rhode Island state ocean waters and federal ocean waters in the Gulf of Mexico that pursued mixed use offshore wind energy zoning. Part IV offers recommendations on various strategies to achieve efficient use of federal ocean resources through comprehensive z​oning of federal offshore wind sites. Finally, Part V concludes this paper and Part VI serves as a helpful appendix for future researchers, offering insight into comparative efforts in China and compiling useful resources for further research.
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