As plans to bring offshore wind to the North Coast move steadily ahead, commercial fishermen are urging federal and state regulatory agencies to pump the brakes.
“I want to make one thing clear: Fishermen are not opposing [renewable] projects up here, we’re opposing the loss of thousands of miles of fishing grounds,” Ken Bates, president of the California Fishermen’s Resiliency Association (CFRA), told the Outpost in a recent interview. “Fishermen understand what’s going on with the climate. They can see what’s going on with the ocean. They get it. … That being said, we need to exercise a little bit of caution before we just throw these projects to the wind, so to speak.”
“Interestingly enough, the areas that are the windiest on the California, Oregon and Washington coasts are also the areas that are most biologically productive,” Bates said. 
Bates has relayed his concerns to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the federal agency that oversees the development of offshore renewable energy projects, but he feels commercial fishermen aren’t being heard.
“The lease area was picked by [BOEM] without input from anybody in the fishing fleet,” he said, adding that there are only a handful of fully operational floating wind turbines in the world. “Part of what fishermen are asking for is to slow down. Let’s be careful and make sure we’re not doing more damage than we’re hoping to alleviate by implementing this technology in the ocean. …We’re scrambling to try to find a way to have some input in this process.”
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As efforts to bring an offshore wind development to the Humboldt County coast ramp up, local stakeholders are vying to get a big ol’ slice of that offshore wind pie.

There will be inevitable impacts associated with the development, especially for folks living along the Samoa Peninsula where the terminal will be built and wind turbine construction, assembly and staging will take place.

To mitigate potential impacts, BOEM offers a little something called a bid credit package. In this case, to qualify for the credit package the bidder “must commit to mak[ing] a qualifying monetary contribution to programs or initiatives” that benefit the greater Humboldt County community.

Eureka City Council representative and soon-to-be Fourth District Humboldt County Supervisor Natalie Arroyo called for robust engagement with Samoa residents in particular. 

The Biden Administration announced this morning that it’s ready to proceed with putting two swaths of the ocean off Humboldt County up for lease to potential offshore wind developers.
Leases for the two areas, which together total more than 206 square miles, will be sold at auction on Tuesday, Dec. 6.  Three areas near Morro Bay will go out for auction on the same date. These will be the first offshore wind leases on the Pacific Coast, and the first in the nation to support what the Department of Interior is calling “commercial-scale” offshore energy.
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This morning, the Humboldt Bay Harbor District has announced a partnership with a private company — Crowley Wind Services — to build a full-service facility to support offshore wind development all along the West Coast.
The development would happen at the district’s Marine Terminal II — a.k.a., the old pulp mill property in Samoa, which it acquired in 2013 — and would be located next to the planned Nordic Aquafarms onshore Atlantic salmon factory.

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Click HERE to see the site map.

Offshore wind is necessary to combat the climate crisis. With gigawatts of potential energy off of Humboldt’s coast as well as one of the first two lease areas proposed on the West Coast, Humboldt is leading the nation. As a leader, it is important that we set a strong example and that we can learn from this project to better develop offshore wind development that both maximizes the potential energy created while ensuring that whatever impacts occur are avoided, minimized and mitigated appropriately. 
EPIC and our friends at Humboldt Baykeeper, the Northcoast Environmental Center, and the Coalition for Responsible Transportation Priorities recently submitted comments to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) on the proposed sale notice for the Humboldt Wind Area. Read them HERE
Wildlife Impacts Uncertain, So Plan for Uncertainty
The marine environment 20-25 miles offshore is relatively poorly studied. While we have some information about what kinds of wildlife use the area, there are still holes in our understanding of what species might be impacted. Even for the species we know exist in this environment, it is unclear how they might interact with floating offshore wind turbines because—excuse the pun—we are in uncharted waters. Only a handful of other floating offshore wind turbines exist and none on the West Coast. What do we do with uncertainty? One approach, adopted by our groups, is rigorous data collection that feeds into project modifications. 
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