Last week, U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman (D-02) visited Egypt as part of the congressional delegation for the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP 27.

Huffman was able to share the progress Humboldt County has made on its proposed offshore wind farm, which he supports, but noted that Humboldt County also needs to focus on forest and coastal resilience in addition to mitigating the effects of sea level rise and maintaining healthy, carbon-sequestering soils.

“No one should wait for the UN, or Congress or any other institution at the national or global level to solve this problem. We don’t have time for that,” Huffman said. “Frankly, even the best agreements at those levels are going to need people and communities at the sub-national level doing their part.”

Every year since the Paris Agreement, the unenforceable 2016 pledge from many nations, including the largest polluters, has seen record-setting temperatures across the world.

In Humboldt County, climate change presents a physical and financial threat to residents in addition to the hazards faced by wildlife. High levels of toxic domoic acid in 2014 delayed Dungeness crabbing season and increased whale entanglements when the season opened later than usual during the whales’ migratory period, said Jen Kalt of Humboldt Baykeeper, a local environmental nonprofit.

“That led to new regulations for crabbing, which was arguably the last reliable commercial fishery for the Humboldt Bay fishing fleet,” Kalt said.
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Earlier this month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced a $4.2 million award for a four-year study on Dungeness crab and krill that will bring together researchers and experts from coastal tribes, public universities and federal agencies from Northern California to Washington.

Climate change has been exacerbating existing marine environmental stressors through changes in temperatures, ocean chemistry and seasonal cycles.

The ocean absorbs about 30% of the carbon dioxide released in the atmosphere, primarily from human activity. Increases in the gas in the ocean have led to rising acidity. Studies have shown as acidity rises, shellfish struggle to maintain hardy shells, their growth slows, and death rates rise.
There’s plenty of research and real-world evidence that confirms climate change is hurting marine species, said Jack Barth, executive director of the Marine Studies Initiative at Oregon State University.

The blob, a marine heat wave that wreaked havoc on Northwest fisheries during 2015 and 2016, led to seabird die-off, poor salmon returns and dozens of closures.

“We’ve had these catastrophic events like the heat blob and things that are showing us that things are changing,” Hagen said, “and they’re not changing incrementally.”

But scientists still don’t have a good handle on how organisms are affected by multiple stressors. What happens when crabs are faced with algal blooms, low oxygen and warm water?

Researchers hope to start to figure that out in the next four years.

They plan to map out where the lowest concentrations of oxygen lie and where the warm water is, and find where these stressors intersect to make life even more hostile for the species, said Richard Feely, senior scientist at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory.

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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. 

“We are pleased to see a General CBA credit, but the [five percent] doesn’t go far enough in addressing our region’s unique needs,” Katerina Oskarsson, a spokesperson for CORE Hub and the Network, told the Outpost. “We do not want to see the industry repeating the same boom-and-bust cycles that have created a legacy of underinvestment in our region. To be effective, community benefits must be designed by our communities, for our communities.”

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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.

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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