Publishers Note: In early August 2008, FERC Denied Rehearing the Mendocino Coast related to the following post. This is one in a series of actions that Federal Government has taken to obstruct community involvement and begin the necessary dialog on environmental concerns.
MendoCoastCurrent, July 21, 2008
An alliance of Northern California coast commercial and recreational fishing associations known as Fishermen Interested in Safe Hydrokinetics (FISH) has announced that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is extending its time to consider the FISH committee request for public participation and environmental analysis in developing federal licensing regulations for nascent wave energy generation projects.
In this Request for Rehearing to FERC, the FISH committee seeks a public-notice-and-comment rulemaking process for the federal licensing of hydrokinetic (wave energy) FERC energy development projects, implementation of a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement and compliance with other federal laws such as the Clean Water Act and the Coastal Zone Management Act. Also joining in this request are the County of Mendocino, the City of Fort Bragg, the Recreational Fishing Alliance and Lincoln County, Oregon.
As the Mendocino coast may lead the United States in wave energy generation exploration, it’s evident to the FISH Committee, coastal governments and concerned citizens that there is a need for responsible federal energy development guidelines and practices including national regulations and environmental impact study before any FERC wave energy licenses are issued. These sought-after guidelines and procedures require rulemaking with public participation in tandem with environmental impact analysis through-out the wave energy development process, including the offshore experimental and pilot stages of exploration.
In the past, the FERC response to concerns on wave energy development has been to exclude rulemaking and shun public input. A comment made by FERC Commissioner Philip Moeller and noted in a New York Times article underlines their position, “Let’s get this stuff in the water and find out what it has to offer.”
Unlike FERC, a related federal agency also involved in wave energy development, the Minerals Management Service or MMS, is utilizing a public process to develop regulations for ocean wave energy projects and has completed a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement.
The project areas of consideration are two wave energy projects proposed for the coast off Mendocino County, one of the most productive marine areas on the West Coast. One proposal covers 68 square miles, and the second covers 17 square miles. Both wave energy projects would require significant exclusion zones in the last remaining fishing grounds off Mendocino County.
“Naturally, fishermen are concerned whenever we hear proposals to close off big areas of the ocean to fishing, but we’re just as concerned about the potential environmental impacts to marine species our fisheries depend on,” said Jim Martin of the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA), a national grassroots political lobby for saltwater sportfishermen, and one of the founding members of FISH. “We hope FERC uses the extra time it has extended itself to carefully consider these issues and do the right thing.”