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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It’s a beautiful photograph in a slick magazine. Vanity Fair’s Summer 2018 issue has a feature article titled “Clear the Coast: A Band of Passionate Californians Is Fighting To Keep Crucial Waterways Clean” and the photograph was taken in Rancho Palos Verdes.

 

Jennifer Kalt, the director of Humboldt Baykeeper is third from the right, wearing her well worn field vest over a Humboldt Baykeeper T-shirt. Thanks for representing!

 

The Redwood Coast Energy Authority, with support from several private companies, is one step closer to developing the first offshore wind farm on the West Coast, according to its executive director Matthew Marshall.

 

The authority, along with Principle Power, Aker Solutions, and EDP Renewables, recently submitted a lease application to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. According to Marshall, if approved the lease would give the authority and its partners “site control” over an ocean area of approximately 70 square miles, meaning they have exclusive project rights to that area. This doesn’t mean the project will span 70 square miles, Marshall said, instead it defines the boundaries of where Redwood Coast could put the project.

 

The proposed wind farm would consist of 10 to 15 wind turbines, capable of producing 100-150 megawatts, according to Marshall.

 

“That’s enough energy for about 70,000 households,” Marshall said. “Offshore wind is the largest untapped resource we have.”

Jennifer Kalt, director of Humboldt Baykeeper, underlined the reality of the situation, saying that ultimately we “need to get off fossil fuels.”

“We don’t know a lot about the critters that live that far offshore,” Kalt said. “The first step is getting info from surveys they’ll be doing.”

 

She added, “Humboldt Baykeeper is cautiously optimistic because it’s a local government agency, the board is composed of elected officials who have exhibited concern and value on working with communities and stake holders.”

 

Emphasizing the importance of the ocean to Humboldt’s community, Kalt said, “we need to slow down the effects of climate change on the ocean. Sea level change and ocean acidification (caused by climate change) will affect this area significantly,” she said.

 

This project, Kalt said, provides an opportunity to “have a community scale offshore wind project that can be developed in a way that’s protective to bay and marine life. Working with different stakeholders that rely on the health of the bay is important and might be what ultimately makes or breaks the project.”

 

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