The Humboldt Bay area may become the site of the first offshore wind energy project on the west coast of North America. The pieces are quickly falling into place for Redwood Coast Energy Authority to become the first local government entity to apply for a commercial offshore wind lease from the federal government. Unlike land-based projects, this lease bid would be just the beginning of a series of studies and related permits that could culminate in project development in 5-7 years.

The Humboldt County Planning Commission has approved plans for the continued operation of an asphalt plant less than a half-mile from iconic Big Lagoon despite objections that all the relevant data about the plant has not yet been received and over requests to postpone the decision until next month.

 

The plant has been operating for several months on an expired permit. 

 

With commissioners Alan Bongio and Brian Mitchell absent, and after a motion to postpone the vote failed, the permit passed with a 4-1 vote, with Noah Levy dissenting.

 

Humboldt Baykeeper Director Jennifer Kalt thought it would be prudent to know just what chemicals might be contaminating the site, and in mid-August, asked the Planning Department for further information. She followed her initial queries with a California Public Records Act request and was promised her information by Sept. 24, four days after the commission was scheduled to act on the application. She asked the commission to postpone the hearing until after the requested information has been received. 

 

Kalt also noted that the project area is home to several endangered species including coho and Chinook salmon, and cutthroat trout. She was concerned about possible flood risks and what hazardous materials may exist on the site. 

 

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An eight-year-old lawsuit filed against PG&E Co. for alleged releases of dioxin from stored utility poles into San Francisco Bay and Humboldt Bay has been settled, according to the environmental group that filed the lawsuit.

 

The Ecological Rights Foundation, based in Garberville (Humboldt County), alleged in its 2010 lawsuit that dioxin, a chemical that causes cancer and birth defects, was carried by storm water runoff from treated wooden utility poles, sawdust and wood waste into the two bays. The settlement was signed by U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg in San Francisco on Friday and announced by the foundation on Monday.

 

Under the agreement, which will remain in effect through 2026, PG&E will identify storage yards containing treated poles and will test and implement technologies for reducing dioxin runoff to levels that pose lower risk to human health and wildlife.

 

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Editor's Note: Richard Marks is seeking re-election to the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District’s Board of Commissioners on Nov. 6. Eureka City Councilwoman Marian Brady is challenging him for the Division 4 seat, which covers the majority of Eureka. On Aug. 21, the Times-Standard emailed both candidates, asking them to answer five questions regarding their experience and their stance on important issues facing their community. The replies of respondents appear below.

 

Richard Marks

 

Q: Please describe your experience and what you bring to the job.

 

A: Humboldt Bay is an amazing place that provides so much for our county. That is why it is imperative that we work together to promote and protect this economic, recreational and ecological treasure at the center of our community.

 

For the last nine years I’ve had the honor to serve the 4th Division on the Humboldt Bay Harbor Recreation and Conservation District. During this time, shipping is dramatically up, there are more jobs, the bay is cleaner and more productive and the financial health of the district has improved greatly.

 

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The Trinidad Rancheria is planning a 100-room, 6-story hotel adjacent to the Cherae Heights Casino on Scenic Drive near Trinidad. Richard Johnson and Dave Hankin are co-chairs for the Humboldt Alliance for Responsible Planning, a group recently formed to foster community involvement in proposed land developments that could have significant impact on quality of life and the environment. HARP’s concerns about the hotel include water supply, wastewater, impacts to birds, light pollution, traffic, and are calling for more transparency and public involvement. HARP will hold a public informational meeting on Thursday, Sept. 27, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Trinidad Town Hall. 

 

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