The framework sets up a programme to grant leases, easements and rights-of-way for offshore renewable energy projects. The powers for such authority were agreed under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) over licensing responsibilities for hydrokinetic projects on the US Outer Continental Shelf.

Under the deal, DoI also has exclusive authority over all aspects of non-hydrokinetic projects, including wind and solar. Its jurisdiction is to be run by the Minerals Management Service (MMS).

FERC controls of licensing to build and operate hydrokinetic plants but it cannot issue preliminary permits and must obtain Interior’s approval to complete the licensing process.

The federal authorities agreed to resolve their turf war in March. They had been debating their relative jurisdictional authorities for months as the potential for the offshore renewable energy sector becomes bigger. Impetus to reach a deal was given by the arrival of the new White House administration under President Obama.