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    Floating offshore wind is a bad fit for the coast

    November 17, 2022 - The Astorian


      Floating offshore wind is a very bad fit for the coast, and anyone forced to purchase the exorbitant high-priced offshore power.

      As important as it may be to attempt to fight climate change, the result must be a benefit for all our citizens, and not just a benefit for large urban centers at the expense of disparaging the coast - widening the urban-coastal divide.

      Adverse impacts to coastal fish-dependent communities must also be considered and quality of life on the coast must be preserved when mammoth new emerging, untested industrial projects propose to displace our fishing industry.

      The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management offshore lease process is broken and needs to be repaired. The broken process was on full display as the agency proposed offshore lease areas in southern Oregon of 2,200 square miles of ocean and did not inform the state until 18 hours before making that overly aggressive announcement public. The process is lease ocean first, and maybe ask questions much later as the potential lessee oversees developing the science to install floating offshore wind.

      This is a worst-case scenario of the fox guarding the hen house when the developer is in charge of producing the science. How can anyone expect a developer to do anything except put the science forward to move the offshore wind lease to fruition, after they have invested heavily with hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire an ocean lease? Adverse impacts to coastal people must matter, too, as a significant part of the lease process.

      The agency's western regional director that will sign any offshore industrial leases has recently stated, "All BOEM does is make a place for floating offshore wind to develop and BOEM has no authority to control any impacts on nearby coastal communities." This is wrong, wrong, wrong! The congressional Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act policy statement regarding ocean development is very clear that "this subchapter shall be construed in such a manner that the character of the waters above the outer Continental Shelf as high seas and the right to navigation and fishing therein shall not be affected."

      The U.S. Coast Guard comes to the rescue with wide vessel traffic fairways proposed offshore Oregon and Washington state out to almost 100 fathoms off Pacific County. Recently, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell accompanied Coast Guard Commandant Linda Fagan from Washington, D.C., to Cape Disappointment and met with the fishing industry in Ilwaco. The industry fully supports the Coast Guard protection of vessel traffic as proposed in their Pacific Coast Port Access Route Study report.

      At the recent Washington Sea Grant crabber-towlane meeting in Astoria, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management acknowledged the Coast Guard fairways as vessel traffic protection and did not attempt to suggest any modification. If these fairways move forward in the future as proposed they will protect and preserve our important access necessary to the viability of our fish-dependent community - viability that would be destroyed by the industrial takeover of over 700 square miles of our local offshore waters. This must be done to preserve Pacific County as the fourth most fish dependent community in the nation.

      Coast Guard fairways will also prevent the excess forced price gouging initiated by offshore wind in local power bills that will increase a minimum of 10 times, as estimated by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, forcing our citizens to choose between lighting, heating and eating. That estimate was done before this recent high bout of inflation.

      Floating offshore wind is bad for the well-being and quality of life of all our citizens and will only push inflation rates to new highs.


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