A deal has been reached by the federal agencies to avoid ‘bureaucratic turf battles’, said DoI Secretary, Ken Salazar, in a joint statement with FERC. They said offshore renewable energy was too important to be slowed.

Previously, in October 2008, after the ongoing debate over which agency had authority, FERC claimed jurisdiction over the territory hydrokinetic projects.

FERC’s assertion came in response to questions raised by the DoI, which said the Commission only had responsibility for schemes within state waters. Instead, FERC claimed that on the continental shelf it is the licensing authority while DoI is the managing agent.

The new settlement recognises that hydro power is not specifically covered in the legislative powers granted to DoI for energy developments offshore, which focus on oil and gas but more recently renewables, in particular wind.

However, the settlement says DoI needs to be actively involved, along with other federal agencies, in permitting hydrokinetic projects though it is FERC that has the primary management responsibility for the licensing process.

In effect, the agencies appear to have called a halt to the turf war and have instructed that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) be drawn up to enable their staff to push ahead with licensing requirements.