The Humboldt Bay area may become the site of the first offshore wind energy project on the west coast of North America. The pieces are quickly falling into place for Redwood Coast Energy Authority to become the first local government entity to apply for a commercial offshore wind lease from the federal government. Unlike land-based projects, this lease bid would be just the beginning of a series of studies and related permits that could culminate in project development in 5-7 years.

The Trinidad Rancheria is planning a 100-room, 6-story hotel adjacent to the Cherae Heights Casino on Scenic Drive near Trinidad. Richard Johnson and Dave Hankin are co-chairs for the Humboldt Alliance for Responsible Planning, a group recently formed to foster community involvement in proposed land developments that could have significant impact on quality of life and the environment. HARP’s concerns about the hotel include water supply, wastewater, impacts to birds, light pollution, traffic, and are calling for more transparency and public involvement. HARP will hold a public informational meeting on Thursday, Sept. 27, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Trinidad Town Hall. 

 

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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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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 wooden poles are treated with pentachlorophenol, a preservative that creates dioxin when it is manufactured. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has banned the preservative for all uses except on utility poles, and its website says it “is extremely toxic when ingested by humans.”

 

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