The federal government has completed an environmental review for developing a wind project 20 miles off the coast of Humboldt Bay. That review found developing offshore wind will have no significant impact on the environment.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Thursday released the final draft of its environmental assessment, which broadly examines how offshore wind activities in the roughly 207-square-mile Humboldt Wind Energy Area would affect the surroundings. Any specific project that is proposed in the future would still need to undergo its own environmental review.

“The completion of this Environmental Assessment represents an important step forward for ensuring that any future renewable energy development — should a lease sale occur — is done in a responsible manner,” BOEM Director Amanda Lefton said in a statement. “Working closely with tribes, state and federal partners and key stakeholders, BOEM remains focused on ensuring that such development is done in a way that avoids or reduces potential impacts to the environment and other ocean users in the region.”

The lease sales for offshore wind projects off Humboldt Bay and Morro Bay in Central California are expected to take place in September, and the completion of the environmental assessment is a major milestone.

You can find the final environmental assessment and more information about offshore wind development in Humboldt Bay at bit.ly/3FvvgjW.

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The California Coastal Commission voted unanimously today to conditionally concur with a federal determination that allowing energy companies and organizations to study a proposed offshore wind farm area on the Humboldt County Coast is consistent with the California Coastal Management Program.

The commission’s vote today does not approve the wind farms or the start of any construction activities — all of which would come back before the commission in the future for further review

Commission staff made clear in its report and presentation that while BOEM believes it is premature to analyze the full scope of environmental impacts of turning a swath of ocean waters off Humboldt Bay into a wind farm, such a transformation is a “reasonably foreseeable” result of today’s vote, so should be considered to the extent possible. Further, commission staff explained this consistency determination was a chance to lay a foundation for the commission’s role in the process moving forward as the state and federal governments continue to push for a more sustainable energy grid.

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The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation, and Conservation District recently received a $576,191 grant from the State Lands Commission to build a Heavy Lift Marine Terminal as part of the offshore wind energy  terminal planned along the Samoa waterfront. The District also released its call for bids on permitting, site assessment, and planning for the Offshore Wind Energy Terminal Master Plan, a 168-acre project to be built in several phases.

Humboldt Bay is about to undergo a transformation that will turn the struggling port into a hub for offshore wind development.

On Wednesday, the California Energy Commission announced it was awarding $10.5 million to the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District to complete the preliminary work, like site surveys and environmental impact assessments, to renovate 168 acres from the Samoa Bridge to the former pulp mill on the peninsula. That includes a new heavy lift marine terminal and 600,000 square feet of new manufacturing space.

“Overall it’s a couple $100 million projects,” Larry Oetker, director of the Humboldt Bay harbor district, told The Times-Standard. “The initial $10 million will get us all the permits and all the environmental review. It will get it to the point where you could actually start building the terminal.”

The Humboldt Bay Offshore Wind Heavy Lift Marine Terminal would have the capacity to manufacture the towers that support the wind turbines and the floating platforms they would rest upon.

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On September 24, 2021, Humboldt Baykeeper and the Environmental Protection Information Center joined the Natural Resources Defense Council, Defenders of Wildlife, Audubon Society, and other environmental organizations in submitting joint scoping comments on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's Environmental Assessment for the Humboldt Wind Energy Area. 
Download the comments HERE.

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