5/8/18

Eureka, Calif. — EPIC, the Northcoast Environmental Center, and Humboldt Baykeeper call for the resignation of Humboldt County Planning Commissioner Kevin McKenny. As reported by the Lost Coast Outpost, in a Notice of Violation dated January 9, 2018, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Board placed Mr. McKenny on notice that he violated numerous federal and state laws. He is accused of grading within a floodplain, removing riparian vegetation, placing slash and waste into riparian areas, and draining a federally recognized wetland adjacent to Third Slough, a Humboldt Bay tributary just outside Eureka city limits. Mr. McKenny has acknowledged his “mistake.” 

 

But this is more than a mistake. From the site inspection report, it appears that Mr. McKenny deliberately sought to drain the wetland with the apparent intent to develop the site. Further, Mr. McKenny appeared to use heavy machinery to fill other areas of the wetland. Mr. McKenny was previously warned that his activities violated the law, yet he continued his harmful actions.

 

The allegations against Mr. McKenny are serious. His conduct is not befitting an individual on the Planning Commission, particularly as the County moves to enforce violations of the its cannabis land use ordinance. Therefore, our organizations call for his immediate resignation. Should Mr. Mc Kenny fail to resign, we ask that the Board of Supervisors remove him from his position. 

 

It is estimated that 90% of the wetlands in Humboldt County were destroyed before their importance was understood and protections put in place. Wetlands improve water quality by filtering polluted runoff and provide critical wildlife habitat. 

 

Mr. McKenny knows that draining, grading, and filling wetlands require permits from at least four agencies — including Humboldt County. The Planning Commission’s responsibility is to protect public health, safety, and welfare. We deserve Planning Commissioners who understand and respect local, state, and federal environmental protections. 

 

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4/28/18

 

Humboldt County Planning Commissioner Kevin McKenny likely violated the federal Clean Water Act, the California Water Code and other environmental regulations last fall when he conducted unauthorized construction activity on a 4.5-acre parcel he owns just outside Eureka city limits, according to a Notice of Violation from the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board.

 

The notice, issued January 9, says that during an inspection of the parcel this past November, staff from the water board and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers found that grading had been done to the floodplain; riparian vegetation had been removed; slash and waste had been pushed into riparian areas; and a drain with least three underground outfall pipes had been installed without proper authorization. 

 

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4/23/18

 

The city of Eureka announced today that fledgling efforts to bring cruise ships to Humboldt Bay have been successful, with the first such ship arriving Monday, May 21. According to its press release, the city, in association with the Humboldt Bay Harbor District, formed a partnership with Eureka Main Street, the Eureka Visitor Center and former city council candidate Chet Albin "to strategically recruit cruise ships to Humboldt  Bay." 

 

Jennifer Kalt, director of Humboldt Baykeeper, told the Journal that cruise ships can provide some environmental challenges because they are not subject to local or state laws regarding the dumping of wastewater, although more commonly they discharge wastewater in the open ocean. Humboldt County also prohibits the dumping of ballast water in the bay as it may carry invasive invertebrates that can threaten local water health. But Kalt adds that Baykeeper does not have an official position on the marketing strategy of attracting cruise ships to the region, and what — if any — environmental impacts becoming a cruise ship destination might have.

 

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4/18/18

After months of negotiations regarding concerns over the potential for drinking water contamination, Mercer-Fraser Company will withdraw its permit application to build a cannabis concentrate manufacturing facility in Glendale.

The April 17 letter from Mercer-Fraser’s attorney Adam Guernsey of the Harrison, Temblador, Hungerford & Johnson law firm states that the company is withdrawing the permit “at this time” because the water district’s actions have “rendered a fair hearing impossible at this time.”

Humboldt Baykeeper Director Jennifer Kalt, who has opposed the project, questioned whether the project will be withdrawn for good.

“Without further information, I don’t see how this is any guarantee we won’t see this project again in the future,” Kalt said. “Bad projects have a way of coming back to life after you think they’re resolved.”

Friedenbach said a withdrawn permit can always be brought back, and if it does in this case the district will likely oppose it again.

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4/13/18

Matthew Marshall, executive director of the Redwood Coast Energy Authority, explains why a public-private partnership wants to build what could be the country’s first floating wind farm, in the Pacific Ocean.

The waves crashing along the coast of Humboldt County, California, make visible just how much energy exists offshore. If all goes well, within a decade the Pacific Ocean in Northern California will be generating electricity from the first offshore floating wind farm set to be built in the United States.

Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA) is a joint powers agency in the city of Eureka, California, that aggregates electricity demand on behalf of the county, a water district and seven cities. RCEA buys much of its energy from various renewable sources on the West Coast, but executive director Matthew Marshall wants to obtain more locally generated electricity. To that end, RCEA announced on April 2 that it had selected a consortium of five companies for a public-private partnership to develop a 100–150 megawatt (MW) floating wind farm 30km (20 miles) off the coast from Eureka. The group consists of Principle Power, EDPR Offshore North America, Aker Solutions, H.T. Harvey & Associates and Herrera Environmental Consultants.

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