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    South Coast voices must be heard about offshore wind energy proposals


    September 19, 2022 - Staff Writer

     

      Oregon's South Coast residents will begin a dialogue on floating offshore wind energy development in a series of three community conversations throughout Coos County on September 28 and October 5. Residents are mobilizing to advocate for community priorities in the conversation about whether they will consider floating offshore wind energy project proposals in Coos Bay. Floating offshore wind energy has the potential to bring benefits to the Coast—but only if the decision-making and planning processes are community-led and include meaningful Tribal consultation, marine ecosystem preservation, protecting the fishing industry from displacement, and local economic benefits.

      Through a series of three Community Conversations on Floating Offshore Wind Energy, community members have opportunities to help define priorities for evaluating potential development projects. Other sessions will be held on Wednesday, September 28, from 6-8 p.m. at the North Bend Public Library and Wednesday, October 5, from 6-8 p.m. at the Southwestern Oregon Community College's Empire Hall (Lakeview Room E & F). Interested participants can register at: bit.ly/foswsessions2022.

      "The South Coast has a history of development where natural resources are extracted to benefit large corporations with no long-term benefits for South Coast residents," said South Coast community organizer Ashley Audycki. "These Community Conversations are just the beginning of building a dialogue that uplifts community priorities and standards that can be used for evaluating potential development projects."

      The South Coast is home to many delicate and essential ecosystems, like the Coos Bay estuary, that sustain the cultural, ecological, and economic lifeways for residents. South Coast residents are seeing the impacts of climate change, and many are interested in a transition to clean energy–but often these proposals still prioritize corporate interests. In order to make sure that future development proposals center community benefits, factors that these Community Conversations will address include topics such as;

      Protecting delicate ecosystems and marine life in the Bay from impacts of development

      Ensuring that leadership and decision-making comes from residents that will be most impacted by floating offshore wind projects FOSW projects

      Protecting existing maritime economies such as fishing and crabbing

      Strengthening local energy resiliency for coastal communities clean energy infrastructure in the form of disaster resilience and microgrids

      The Community Conversations on Floating Offshore Wind Energy are open to South Coast community members who want to help craft priorities for evaluating potential floating offshore energy and other development projects.There are many factors to consider, but what is clear is that residents are pushing to be involved from the beginning. This could set the stage for more community-led decision making in the South Coast in the future.

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