By B.N. Frank
Offshore wind proponents continue to fiercely defend their projects despite the alarming number of whales and other ocean life washing up on beaches in the U.S. and in Scotland (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Earlier this month, a New Jersey organization filed a lawsuit to stop what it believes to be the unsafe deployment of turbines off the coast of Long Beach Island. Of course, Americans’ concerns about offshore wind development aren’t exclusively about ocean life.
Tribes concerned about wind energy development impact to fisheries, local jobs, and pristine viewsheds
Last week, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (“BOEM”) released two draft Wind Energy Areas (“WEAs”) for development of offshore wind energy off the Oregon Coast, including areas near Florence and Brookings. The release of these WEAs was contrary to the call of the Oregon Governor and Congressional delegation requesting that the process for wind energy development by suspended to ensure that the concerns of local residents, commercial fishing, and Tribes are fully considered in the process.
The Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians (“Tribe”) joins these concerns and believes that the release of the WEAs was premature and threatens fisheries, local fishing jobs, and some of Oregon pristine ocean viewsheds, some of which are sacred to the Tribe.
“The Tribe supports any green economic development project that follows the law and does not harm local fishing jobs, our environment, or Tribal cultural resources. We cannot support offshore wind development until we are provided assurance that it will do good and not harm the Tribe, its members, and the greater community,” said Tribal Council Chair Brad Kneaper. “Last year, the Tribal Council called upon BOEM to engage in meaningful government-to government consultation with the Tribe and to take action to ensure that offshore wind energy development in any area of interest to the Tribe avoids or mitigates impacts to Tribal cultural resources to the satisfaction of the Tribe. We are not satisfied that the WEAs will do that.”
In multiple communications with BOEM, the Tribe raised a number of concerns to BOEM about wind energy development. These comments include a request that important, cultural viewsheds be excluded from the WEAs and that wind development avoid areas critical to resident and migratory species, including important areas for fishing.
“Last week, BOEM shared its initial visual impacts assessment that demonstrates that the blades and lights from these facilities could be seen from important places along the coast both during the day and at night. This is not acceptable to the Tribe,” said Chair Kneaper.
“The Tribe also has consistently asked the BOEM exclude important fishing areas. Fishing is an important industry on the Coast that employs tribal members and supports tribal businesses. Fish, including salmon, are also an important cultural and subsistence resource to the Tribe. Any impact to fish from wind development is going to harm our local jobs and the Tribe,” said Chair Kneaper.
“The Tribe remains open to working with the BOEM to resolve the issues raised in our comments,” said Chair Kneaper. “We plan to provide comments to BOEM on the WEAs, to provide testimony at the public hearings, and to coordinate with our local and state partners to address our concerns.”
Source: Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua & Siuslaw Indians | August 23, 2023
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