Commercial Fishermen, Lawmakers, and Tribal Groups Urge Biden Admin to Pause Offshore Wind Farms in Pacific Ocean

By B.N. Frank

American concerns about offshore wind projects are not going away (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11) – including in the state of Oregon.


Gov. Kotek calls for pause on offshore wind turbines

Credit:  By George Plaven, Capital Press | June 13, 2023 | ~~

Gov. Tina Kotek is joining a chorus of voices – including tribes and commercial fishermen – urging the Biden administration to slow down its push for floating wind farms in the Pacific Ocean off the state’s southern coast.

In a letter sent Friday to Elizabeth Klein, director of the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Kotek asked the agency to pause identifying and leasing offshore wind areas in order to fully evaluate impacts on the environment and economy.

The letter was also signed by U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, U.S. Rep. Val Hoyle and U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, all Oregon Democrats. Bonamici represents the North Coast.

“Many valid questions and concerns remain about floating offshore wind,” they wrote. “These must be addressed transparently before we can support proceeding further toward any substantial development decisions on the Oregon Coast.”

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has already identified two call areas for offshore wind near Coos Bay and Brookings. Together, they cover a combined 1,812 square miles of ocean.

Regulators are now preparing a draft report outlining where in the areas turbines may be built safely while minimizing harm to fisheries and marine life.

Members of the West Coast fishing industry, however, claim that the bureau is ignoring their concerns. They worry that floating offshore wind farms will displace boats from highly productive fishing grounds and could irreversibly damage the California Current ecosystem.

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The Pacific Fishery Management Council has requested that the bureau rescind its two Oregon call areas and start the process over analyzing the entire coast.

The Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians also passed a resolution at its 2023 Midyear Convention asking the bureau to “immediately halt all scoping and permitting for offshore wind projects until a comprehensive and transparent procedure is developed and implemented to protect tribal environmental and sovereign interests.”

The Biden administration has set a goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of renewable offshore wind energy by 2030 to slow climate change.

Kotek and members of Oregon’s congressional delegation stated in their letter that they support taking bold steps on climate action, and floating offshore wind turbines could be a key component to accomplishing that objective.

“However, any offshore wind project must be done responsibly and in collaboration with local communities, including fishing and tribal stakeholders,” they wrote.

Hitting the pause button would give the state more time to develop a coordinated approach with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to avoid potential conflicts, they stated.

Heather Mann, executive director of the Midwater Trawlers Cooperative based in Newport, criticized the bureau’s process as opaque. While the agency has held meetings about offshore wind up and down the coast, Mann said it is not clear how their objections are being considered.

“We’ve been really pushing to have more engagement in an authentic way. That has not happened,” she said. “At the end of this long process where they take all of this feedback, they’ve never rejected an offshore wind project. That tells me the whole thing is a farce, from start to finish.”

Aboard the trawler Pegasus docked at the Port of Newport, Mann and the ship’s captain, Justin Johnson, discussed how floating wind farms would potentially harm fishermen.

Because they are chained to the ocean floor, turbines would make it impossible for vessels to safely maneuver nets and longlines through the areas.

The wind that is captured to make electricity could disrupt the wind-driven upwelling of nutrients that is a defining feature of what makes the California Current a world-class fishery for species, including Pacific whiting.

“We can’t solve an energy crisis by creating a food shortage,” Johnson said.

Coastal communities depend on successful fishing to power the rest of their economy, Johnson added. The money he makes from his catches is spent locally on fuel and supplies and provides jobs for people who work at processing facilities that turn the raw fish into seafood.

“We don’t want to see fishing go away, to where Newport is not the working waterfront that everyone not only knows and loves but depends on as a huge part of their community’s financial (well-being),” he said.

Source:  By George Plaven, Capital Press | June 13, 2023 |

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

Activist Post reports regularly about wind power and unsafe technologies.  For more information, visit our archives.

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