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Posts Tagged ‘Fort Bragg’

October 18, 2011, Mendocino Coast

Last Saturday #Occupy activists in Fort Bragg joined the global ‘Day of Rage’ gatherings with half a dozen folks and a dog waving flags and carrying signs at the US Post Office, also standing in solidarity with #OccupyWallStreet and activists around the world.

Following #OccupyFB, more than 35 #OccupyMendocino activists gathered for general assembly, working together and sharing at the library, organizing and brainstorming #OccupyMendocino actions.

Please join us, join in and bring your own sign ~ WE ARE THE 99%!

Calendar of Upcoming #OccupyMendocino Actions:

  • #OccupyFB: Wednesday, 10/19/11, 3-6pm, Fort Bragg Farmers Market, Corner of Franklin & Laurel
  • #OccupyFB at Congressional Candidate Dinner, Wednesday, 10/19/11, 6-10pm, Silver’s at the Wharf parking area
  • #OccupyUkiah General Assembly, Wednesday, 10/19/11, 6-7pm, Alex Thomas Plaza, Ukiah
  • #OccupyMendo: Friday, 10/21/1, 12-2pm, Mendocino Farmer’s Market, Howard Street, Mendocino
  • #OccupyFB: Friday, 10/21/11, 4-6pm Chase & Bank of America Action, Alder & Main St. parking area, Fort Bragg
  • #OccupyMendocino General Assembly, Saturday, 10/22/11, 2:30-5pm, Fort Bragg Library
  • #OccupyUkiah General Assembly, Sunday, 10/23/11, 10-11am, Alex Thomas Plaza, Ukiah

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Editor’s Note: Since January 1, 2010, we have been working on the Kent State Truth Tribunal, please go to www.TruthTribunal.org to learn more about our efforts to reveal the truth at Kent State in 2010. Thanks!

laurelnallison2On May 4, 2009 I participated in the 39th Annual Kent State University Memorial and gave this talk:

My name is Laurie Krause. I am the sister of Allison Krause, the daughter of Arthur and Doris Krause.

I want to thank you for gathering together today. It’s an honor to be here at Kent State University to participate. I’d also like to thank the student body and May 4th Task Force for inviting me.

I am here to honor people who follow their truths, to respect people who live their ideals, and to focus on the healing of Kent State and our community at large.

39 years ago today, my sister, Allison Krause, was murdered by the Ohio National Guard for protesting and demonstrating against the Vietnam War. Also killed were Jeffrey, Sandra and William, and nine other Kent State students were seriously injured. I’m pleased to see a number of the surviving protesters here today, thank you for being here.

Allison was a freshman at Kent State who was incredibly passionate about life. She was a peace-loving, confident, altruistic, honor-student wanting to get the most out of college, and she was also deeply in love with her boyfriend, Barry.

As my older sister, Allison was someone I looked up to. She was so creative. I still look up to her and continue to be inspired that the whole world may be changed by any real person, like you or me, walking forward with hope and living our ideals and truths.

Let me ask you, today, are you living your truth?

Allison vehemently disagreed with the US government and its involvement in Vietnam so she assembled with many others and protested on Friday, the first of May, not knowing that she was putting her life in jeopardy, yet feeling strongly that the actions committed by our government were wrong.

On that day, a group of 500 students assembled to protest the US invasion of Cambodia. Rallies were planned for Monday to continue protesting the expansion of the Vietnam War.

The Ohio National Guard was sent in on Saturday and Kent State became a war zone overnight. Students were tear gassed and wounded by bayonets during demonstrations taking place over the weekend.

The ROTC building was burned down in retaliation for the students being attacked for expressing their right to protest and assemble.

Press conferences held by Gov. Rhodes called protesters un-American. Rhodes declared a state of emergency, banned any further demonstrations and imposed martial law at Kent. Curfews were set. Students had to run from Guardsmen on campus late at night and Allison ran from them that night. Students couldn’t return to their dorm rooms and were stuck wherever they could find shelter for the night.

Over the following days, the Kent State University campus ignited into one of our country’s worst nightmares.

As tensions heightened over the weekend, Allison called home to my parents to let them know what was happening on campus. My father told Allison to be cautious; he even asked her to back down and not involve herself.

My parents, like most parents, were coming from a place of love for their daughter. They wanted her to be safe.

But Allison was aware of the risks involved. Still, she never considered not protesting against something she was incredibly passionate about. The Vietnam War had just taken a turn for the worse, it was a time when hope for peace was fading.

To Allison, it was an obligation to show dissension to the government invading Cambodia. She made her decision, and we all know the outcome.

That Monday, despite school officials attempting to ban the demonstration by sending out leaflets, more than 2,000 people arrived to protest the government’s actions.

The dispel process began that morning with leaders telling student protestors to go home or be arrested. Students responded to these infringements of rights by throwing rocks. Wearing gas masks, the National Guard used tear gas to exert control over the growing crowds.

After some time with a lot of maneuvering Guardsmen turned in unison and took aim.

The shooting lasted 13 seconds.

Dumdum bullets were used – a type of bullet that’s illegal in warfare – and explodes on impact.

My sister died in Barry’s arms.

Allison’s death symbolizes the importance of our right to protest and speak our truths freely.

The day after the shooting, my father Arthur Krause spoke on television, telling the public how Allison’s death shall not be in vain.

Afterwards, my parents followed their truth through the legal system and in the courts over the next nine years. They sought the truth about Kent State and the reason for the murder of their daughter … going all the way to the US Supreme Court. Their final appeal was settled and the federal government issued a statement of regret.

It’s no secret that my family holds Nixon, Rhodes and the State of Ohio responsible.

Also, with the recently re-discovered audio tape, proof of an order to shoot has been found.

We now know that our government intentionally committed this deadly act against the youth of 1970, calling them ‘bums’ as they protested the Cambodian Invasion.

Triggers were not pulled accidentally at Kent State. What happened was malicious, what happened was irresponsible, what happened was evil.

The shooting was at best, without any forethought, and at worst, with total forethought. Firing on a group of unarmed students, who were simply exercising their First Amendment rights to express dissent with their government was a crime.

What do we do with an order to shoot? What can you do when the government gives permission to use ultimate force, to use deadly force, against its dissenters?

It was the government’s goal to make a defining statement and shut down student protest across the country that day…and they did…for years!

There is no such thing as a true democracy when this happens.

The local, state and federal governments never accepted responsibility for the murder of Allison, Jeffrey, Sandra and William and the injuries sustained by nine others that occurred 39 years ago today.

The people injured in the protests are reminded of it everyday.

The Kent State shooting has changed all of our lives forever, both on the inside and the outside. My family lost its eldest child and were robbed from seeing her blossom in her life past 19 years. I lost my only sister and I miss her each day.

Looking back, did the Kent State protest and killings make a difference?

Well, there was a huge response by Americans.

The Kent State shooting single-handedly created the only nationwide student strike with over 8 million students from high schools to universities speaking out and holding rallies afterward.

And Jackson State also culminated in murderous acts in a similar quest to silence student protest.

We became a nation at war with itself.

But how did we let it get that far? How did this happen?

People will never forget that day at Kent State. Today marks an event that still hits deep for so many of us.

People who were directly involved, people who believe in the Bill of Rights and the freedom to disagree with the government, people who continue to share a vision of harmony and peace for all. We’re all active participants; we are all involved in what happened.

Today is about remembrance, honor, respect and a focal point for a change in the way we handle dissension with governmental actions.

What have we learned? What can we take away from this horrible event?

For starters, we must each take responsibility for what happened so we may learn from the past, to learn from our mistakes.

First, I’m interested in learning more about the re-discovered audio recording from a student’s window ledge during the actual shooting. With new recording and audio technologies, we have revealed that ‘order to shoot.’

The order to shoot has always been a concern. In fact, each and every governmental or military official throughout the legal battle has stated under oath that there was never an order to shoot.

However, I do not accept their words and I ultimately believe they perjured themselves. There is no way the National Guard could march uphill away from the crowd – to turn in unison after reaching the top, and to shoot into the crowd – without premeditated forethought. Their bullets murdered students from over a football field away. There is no way this could ever be accomplished without an order to shoot.  (Click to hear tape.)

Now with this re-discovered tape recording, we finally have proof that an order to shoot was given.

With this tape, it is very much my belief that until the truth is brought to light here, the Kent State Killings will continue to remain an ugly, unknown, unaccounted-for wound.

Case in point, just a little over a week ago Kent State students had another brush with aggressive police action during College Fest, a block party where 60 people were arrested and rubber bullets were shot into the crowd for ‘crowd control.’

People were shot for no reason, arrested for not disbanding, and fires started in the streets.

At an event with no political subtext, we can see how much kindling there already is, waiting for a spark to ignite an explosion of extreme violence. It’s still there!

We’re still seeing the same tension of the Kent State shooting that happened 39 years ago, today. The cause and effect is still active here at Kent State.

Unless we heal these wounds, they shall continue festering.

Instead of focusing on our differences, let’s focus on what brings us together.

Right now, at this point in time, it is critically important that we work together in harmony to benefit all.

We can’t perpetuate this us/them polarization of constant reaction to what’s happening around us anymore. I mean, how’s that working for us? Is that working?

So, how do you heal a community, a nation? Or should I ask, how do we heal ourselves?

Each day as we live our truths, our intentions capture a healing, beautiful, peaceful essence for positive change.

Despite harsh criticism by local residents, even by her own president, Allison and others continued on.

Allison believed in making a difference. Being anti-war and pro-peace and harmony, she was called to action. Although it was not her clear intention, Allison spoke, participated in and died for what she believed in.

The spirit of Allison asks “What are we but what we stand for?”

Don’t hope for a new tomorrow, live it today and live your truth each day. We all make a difference by speaking our truths against all odds.

Through-out my life I looked to my big sister for inspiration. Allison taught me the importance of living a life of intention and truth and I am now consciously and busily speaking my truths.

That is Allison’s message and it not just for me.

I want to close the speech by sharing with you how I have the spirit of Allison in my life as I live on the Northern California coast.

A few years ago under the Bush Administration, a major utility company and the federal government wanted to begin exploring wave energy renewable energy technologies in the Pacific Ocean near where I live.

As it progressed, the administration was very gung-ho on exploring wave technologies with a mentality of ‘throwing technology into the ocean and let’s see what happens!’

In March 2008, I marched for the Mendocino Wave Energy Moratorium, to be a voice for protecting the marine environment, to slow it down for proper environmental research to be conducted and to involve the community in this project.

In 2007 I also began publishing a blog called MendoCoastCurrent. I did this as my personal, political act and operate as the Wave Energy Blogger and an environmental activist now.

Allison showed me that it is my responsibility to live and speak my truth. If I do not agree with what’s happening, it is my right to protest, assemble and voice my concerns.

Since then I’ve encountered quite a few unforeseen obstacles and hostile harassment, yet I still believe that even in the face of opposing forces and arrest, I must fight my good fight…and keep on, keeping on! Allison whispers this in my ear.

Let’s stand up for what is right and best for all. We must protest against injustices and use our voices to speak out when we disagree with what’s happening.

On the Mendocino coast as all looked lost regarding the negative effects of wave energy with mounting environmental concerns regarding this nascent technology in our ocean, President Obama was inaugurated.

Obama and his administration bring us so much good news. They are approaching renewable energy technology from an environmentally-safe perspective along with incorporating community aims and input now. And that massive utility company is following suit.

Environmental concerns in creating safe renewable energy in my community may now be possible!

And I feel Allison smiling!

We must still remain ever vigilant yet I’ve found a great deal of hope and comfort in what I’ve seen these past one hundred days of Obama.

I’m hopeful that we may become more conscious of our use of our precious resources, in using and generating our electricity and in fueling our vehicles.

I’m hopeful that the truth about Kent State will someday be known.

As we learn to speak our truth, even in the face of danger and opposition, we bring change and harmony.

So I ask you…and I ask you for Allison as well…how are you speaking your truth today?

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Dan Bacher, July 24, 2010

In a historic protest on July 21, members of dozens of California Indian Tribes and their allies marched through the streets of downtown Fort Bragg protesting the violation of indigenous fishing and gathering rights under Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative.

“This is the biggest protest on any issue held on the North Coast since the Redwood Summer of 1990,” said Dan Hamburg, former North Coast Congressman and a current Green Party candidate for Mendocino County Supervisor, as he marched beside me on the way to the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force meeting in Fort Bragg.

Members of the Yurok, Tolowa, Cahto, Kashia Pomo, Karuk, Hoopa Valley, Maidu, Hopi, Navajo and other tribes and the Noyo Indian Community shouted “M.L.P.A. – Taking Tribal Rights Away” and other chants as they marched. Recreational anglers, commercial fishermen, seaweed harvesters, environmentalists, sea urchin divers and seafood industry workers walked side by side with tribal members in a show of solidarity.

Alongside tribal flags, participants hoisted banners with slogans including “Keep Away MLPA,” “Native Conservation, Not Naive Conservation,” “No MLPA,” “ MLPA=Big Oil,” and “RLF – What Are You Funding.”

The group peacefully took control of the task force meeting in a great example of non-violent direct action. After rallying at Oak and Main Street, over 300 people walked a half-mile to the C.V. Star Community Center. Just before heading into the meeting, tribal community members standing twenty deep chanted, “No Way M.L.P.A.!” to the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) members convened inside.

“Our message was clear: the state will no longer impose its will on indigenous people,” said Frankie Joe Myers, organizer for the Coastal Justice Coalition and a Yurok Tribal ceremonial leader. “This is about more than a fouled-up process that attempts to prohibit tribes from doing something they have done sustainably for thousands of years. It is about respect, acknowledgement and recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights!”

Before the group began their march, they spent an hour holding signs and chanting on the corner of Oak and Main Streets as driver after driver honked their horns in support.

“The outpouring of support from the Fort Bragg community was amazing,” said Jim Martin, West Coast Director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance. “It was clear that the majority of people supported our protest. Some people were driving around several times so they could honk in support again.”

After the protesters entered the meeting, tribal elders, including Walt Lara of the Yurok Tribe, said they would continue to do what they have done for centuries – harvest seaweed, mussels and fish.

“We’ve managed the ocean in sustainable way for thousands of years,” Lara stated. “We only take what we need so that nobody should be hungry. You take our water, you take our land and now your are going to take our appetite.”

Thomas O’Rourke, the chair of the Yurok Tribal Council, said, “We as an Indian Nation have the right to manage our resources. The people who have managed for the last 200 years haven’t done so well in managing the land and our coast.”

“It is wise to listen to the people who managed these lands for thousands of years,” he continued. “We believe in protecting species. We will continue to exercise our right to harvest seaweed and fish as we always have. You have to take us to jail until you go broke and you fix this law.”

The Yurok Tribe has a representative, Megan Rocha, on the MLPA’s Regional Stakeholder group. However, O’Rourke said the MLPA process has viewed tribes exactly the same as recreational fishermen, even though tribes are sovereign nations.

“There is nothing more offensive than the lack of recognition we have received from the Initiative,” he stated. “We are a sovereign government within the State of California and should be treated accordingly. We would like the Blue Ribbon Task Force to do what is morally right and remove tribes from this inappropriate process.”

Jimbo Simmons, a Choctaw Tribe member and a leader of the American Indian Movement, emphasized that numerous laws, including the American Indian Religious Freedom Act and the UN Declaration of Human Rights, affirm the right of indigenous people to conduct their traditional religious ceremonies including traditional ocean food gathering. “Food is a human right,” he stated.

“Our tribal rights are not negotiable,” Dania Colegrove, Hoopa Valley Tribe member and a member of the Coastal Justice Coalition, told the task force. “Get used to it!”

Some Tribal members and fishermen at the protest questioned the task force’s real motives in kicking indigenous people and other fishermen off the ocean.

Susan Burdick, Yurok Elder, pointedly told the Blue Ribbon Task Force that “You are like the Ku Klux Klan – without the hoods! We’re not going to stop what we have doing for generations. We have young people here, old people here and we will march everywhere you go.”

“What is your real purpose: to start drilling for oil off our coastline?” she asked. “Be honest with us!”

Burdick’s concerns over the push by the oil industry and others to industrialize the California coast were echoed by environmentalists including Judith Vidaver, Chair of Ocean Protection Coalition (OPC).

“For over 25 years OPC, with our fisher and seaweed harvester allies, has protected our ocean from threats such as aquaculture projects, nuclear waste dumping, offshore oil development and recently, wave power plants,” Vidaver stated. “We are requesting that final Marine Protected Area (MPA) designations include language prohibiting these industrial-scale commercial activities.”

She also shocked the panel by asking that task force member Catherine Reheis-Boyd voluntarily step down from her position on the BRTF.

“Oil and water do not mix—as we are being reminded daily by the disaster spewing in the Gulf,” she stated. “Mrs. Reheis-Boyd’s position as President of the Western States Petroleum Association and her lobbying efforts to expand offshore oil drilling off the coast of California are a patent conflict of interest for which she should recuse herself from the BRTF proceedings which are ostensibly meant to protect the marine ecosystem.”

Meg Caldwell, a BRTF member, responded to Vidaver’s request in defense of Reheis-Boyd.

“I am a died-in-the-wool environmentalist and I have worked for the past year with Reheis-Boyd. Not once has she demonstrated any bias for any industrial sector on the Task Force,” she stated.

The overwhelming majority of people making public comments criticized the MLPA process for any array of reasons.

However, Karen Garrison, policy analyst for NRDC, affirmed her support for the MLPA Initative. She said that her organization “is committed to creating an effective marine protected area network that also supports continued noncommercial traditional Tribal uses.”

“The Kashia Pomo regulation shows it’s possible to do both, at least under some circumstances, and shows the flexibility of the MLPA to accommodate Tribal uses,” Garrison stated. “We also support the Tribe’s proposal to separately identify noncommercial traditional Tribal uses in any regulation that allows both Tribal and recreational uses.”

The MLPA, a landmark law signed by Governor Gray Davis in 1999, calls for the creation of marine reserves with varying levels of protection from one end of the state to the other.

Many fishermen, environmentalists and Tribal members have blasted Schwarzenegger’s MLPA Initiative, privately funded by the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, for taking water pollution, oil drilling and all other human uses of the ocean other than fishing and gathering off the table while denying Tribes their fundamental rights.

“Whether it is their intention or not, what the Marine Life Protection Act does to tribes is systematically decimate our ability to be who we are,” Myers said. “That is the definition of cultural genocide.”

“The MLPA process completely disregards tribal gathering rights and only permits discussion of commercial and recreational harvest,” Myers concluded. “The whole process is inherently flawed by institutionalized racism. It doesn’t recognize Tribes as political entities, or Tribal biologists as legitimate scientists.”

“The protest surpassed my wildest dreams,” said Mike Carpenter, a sea urchin diver and local protest organizer. “I’m glad that tribal members, fishermen, Latino sea urchin industry workers and local environmentalists all banded together to keep our communities from being robbed by outside interests and big corporate money.”

The latest action was preceded on June 29 by a protest during which a group of 40 Tribal members and their supporters interrupted the MLPA Science Advisory Team meeting in Eureka. Members of the Coastal Justice Coalition during both protests emphasized that there is no scientific data that says tribal gathering has any negative impact on the coastal ecosystem and the Act does nothing to stop pollution and off-shore drilling — the real threats to the ocean ecosystem.

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FRANK HARTZELL, Fort Bragg Advocate News, June 11, 2010

Rising acidity of ocean waters will wipe out the world’s coral reefs and could devastate crab, scallops and other creatures that build shells from calcium compounds in ocean waters, a top professor told a Fort Bragg audience last Friday.

San Francisco State Professor Jonathon Stillman presented figures that showed the pH balance of ocean waters has tilted toward acid in the past 20 years. That’s nearly as much as it did in the previous 200 years, which were themselves a steady but slow increase over historical levels.

The bad news could be good news for Fort Bragg’s efforts to launch a marine science study center. Millions in study funding has already been pledged by various organizations to monitor new Marine Life Protected Areas. Ocean acidification and upwelling present further tasks critical to the planet’s future that a local marine study center could help with, locals said.

The Marine Life Protection Act Initiative is a public-private effort to create a connected array of new areas of the ocean where fishing uses are prohibited or restricted. The MLPAI is a private organization authorized by the state and funded by the Resources Legacy Foundation Fund to gather public input and create the proposed maps of closed areas.

Stillman presented preliminary experimental data that showed disturbing changes to mollusks, crustaceans and even fish, including decreasing shell-building and creature size.

Rising proof about the impacts of global climate change and acidification show that coral reefs will actually be melted in this century if current rates of acidification continue.

Perhaps most distressing to the crowd of about 40 people was that the life-giving upwelling off the Mendocino Coast actually adds to acidification by bringing up more acidic deep waters.

The more upwelling, the more acidic waters become.

Ocean acidification is caused by atmospheric carbon dissolving in the oceans. Ocean acidity has been rising since the beginning of the industrial revolution, as factories, cars and even cows have pumped out increasing amounts of carbon dioxide. About 30% of carbon released into the atmosphere ends up in the oceans.

Stillman was both harried and delighted by the steady barrage of questions from the audience. Many were complex and scientific in nature such as queries from geologist Skip Wollenberg and seaweed harvester Tomas DiFiore.

Everybody seemed to have a question and got an answer from the professor:

  • Do rising salinity levels contribute? Answer: No and icecap melting means salinity is actually going down.
  • What about studying the winds that drive upwelling? Answer: Important question but too tangential.

Wollenberg wanted to know if the fossil record provided any warnings of what happens when oceans get more acid. Stillman said it does, but wanted time to share important recent studies on that subject before answering, and he ran out of time, due to all the questions and discussion.

The Marine Life Protection Act Initiative never came up, although, it has greatly raised local interest (and controversy) in ocean issues and local participation in solving problems with the oceans.

The talk was sponsored by COMPASS (Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea) and OST (Ocean Science Trust). COMPASS seeks to help scientists like Stillman step outside the ivory tower and communicate complex topics to the general public.

“They are an effort to provide relevant science talks to our communities — which is such a treat,” said Jeanine Pfeiffer, a locally-based college science teacher who is also outreach coordinator for MLPAI. “I personally am thrilled to have free access to the types of seminars I used to be able to see on a weekly basis at UC Davis, but are so rare here on the coast, due to our remote location.”

Stillman provided no solutions, with his handout stating that reduced carbon output is the only solution to ocean acidification (as well as rising sea levels).

More scientific study of the oceans — like that locals hope to create with a science center on the former Georgia Pacific mill site — is critical to the survival of the planet, Stillman said.

“At present we cannot adequately predict how marine ecosystems as a whole will respond to ocean acidification and our ability to deal with (acidification) depends on how well we can predict its effects,” Stillman’s handout states.

State efforts to stem global climate change and prepare for rising sea levels were explained to the crowd by Sheila Semans, project specialist with the California Ocean Protection Council, the state agency that oversees the oceans.

She explained the sweeping Global Warming Solutions Act signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006 that targets emission reductions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Among important specific actions she cited was the acquisition of Bay Area wetlands, mostly from the Cargill Corporation, another public-privatized effort (like MLPAI) financed by the Resources Legacy Foundation.

Unlike Georgia Pacific at the mill site, Cargill was allowed to convey tens of thousands of acres to the state before cleaning up toxic effects of generations of salt mining.

This reporter, accompanied by dissident Bay Area local environmentalists and Department of Fish and Game employees, toured miles of these former salt marshes, which support little life in many places. The state has little funding for a cleanup that could cost a billion.

Local critics of the acquisition process for the salt marshes (such as refuge friends organizations) say they were unable to influence the centralized marketing and acquisition process. After the massive land tracts were acquired amid much fanfare, problems with the amount paid and the extent of the cleanup needed emerged, as local critics had predicted.

The MLPAI effort pledges better follow up study, but many locals remain skeptical that study dollars or efforts will involve locals and those with hands-on familiarity with the local ocean.

– For an overview of climate change: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/

– California Climate Change portal: http://www.climatechange.ca.gov/

The site with videos addressing rising sea levels (and other topics): http://www.climatechange.ca.gov/visualization/index.html

– Cargill acquisition: http://baynature.org/articles/jul-sep-2007/highway-to-the-flyway/napa-sonoma-marshes

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Ukiah Daily Journal, January 11, 2010

For the first time in 150 years, the city of Fort Bragg in California can claim its own coastline.

On January 5, 2010, the Mendocino County community of 7,000 acquired 92 acres of the former Georgia-Pacific mill site, which stretches for 3 1/2 miles along most of the city’s oceanfront. The city’s newly acquired property will be used for a park and a long-awaited stretch of the California Coastal Trail.

Although the sale is complete, for the next two years, public access will be restricted as plans and development of the parkland and trails takes place and the dream of an open coast becomes a reality.

The city purchased part of its new property using a $4.2 million grant from the State Coastal Conservancy, and Georgia-Pacific donated a 100-foot-wide corridor encompassing over 57 acres along the site’s coastal bluffs for a trail.

The City’s acquisition had been in the works since about the time the mill closed in 2002. Early on, the city worked closely with the Coastal Conservancy and Georgia-Pacific to examine potential uses of the site and a series of public workshops made it clear that local residents were united in their desire for a coastline that is open to the public.

“We have never had the opportunity to open the entire coastline of a city in one fell swoop,” said Sam Schuchat, executive officer of the Coastal Conservancy. “A public coastline in Fort Bragg will be a tremendous recreational and economic asset not just for the city, but for the entire north coast of California.”

The property’s main trail corridor is slated to become part of the California Coastal Trail, which will eventually extend 1,200 miles along the entire coastline of California. More than half of the Coastal Trail is already complete, and new sections are being added in all parts of the state’s coast.

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FRANK HARTZELL, Fort Bragg Advocate News, December 24, 2009

Image by Larry R. Wagner

The California State Lands Commission last week found its own regulations designed to protect marine mammals so inconsistent and confusing as to be unenforceable.

That was good news for Fugro Pelagos, owner of the 176-foot survey vessel Pacific Star that reported it fatally struck a female blue whale on Oct. 19.

“On behalf of all of us at Fugro Pelagos, we thank … the California State Lands Commission (SLC) for assessing the facts of the matter and deciding not to revoke our offshore geophysical survey permit. In making such a decision, they recognized that language of the current permit is unclear and could be subject to interpretation,” said Fugro Company President David Millar, in a statement issued after the meeting.

State Lands Commission staff had recommended that the company’s permit be yanked and that Fugro pay $13,000 for staff investigatory expenses.

Instead, the commission hashed out an agreement by which the company now agrees to follow the conditions of the permit — as the commission wrongly believed had been happening all along.

“It is now clear that the California State Lands Commission considers hydrographic surveying using only an echo sounder to be an activity covered by the offshore geophysical survey permit. Fugro Pelagos has agreed to comply with this interpretation on the basis that all other permit holders will receive written notification of the State’s position and that the State will work with Fugro Pelagos and other stakeholders in reviewing and modifying the current permit language so that there can be no future misunderstandings about what activities are and are not covered by the offshore geophysical survey permit,” Millar stated.

The whale bled to death in about half an hour, washing up just south of Fort Bragg.

The entire matter is a gigantic “I told you so” for Steve Sullivan, who has been criticizing these very regulations for being confusing and widely ignored.

Sullivan owns a Fugro rival surveying company. He has harped at state authorities for about five years, saying others should be made to do what his company does, including always having a marine mammal observer on deck and employing a spotter boat.

Sullivan had predicted catastrophe for marine mammals unless regulations became consistent. Prior to the Oct. 19 whale strike, Sullivan not only criticized Fugro, but also state and university agencies for ignoring the regulations designed to protect marine mammals.

At last Thursday’s meeting, the State Lands Commission set out to demand those agencies and Fugro all now follow consistent rules.

Sullivan’s pleas seemingly fell on deaf ears at the State Lands Commission and the Ocean Protection Council. In fact when Sullivan contended following the whale strike that Fugro was operating without a permit, state and federal officials had vociferously refuted Sullivan’s contention.

But technically, Sullivan was right. Fugro never finalized a marine mammal plan required by the permit because they felt it did not apply to any of the work they were doing. Yet, the company kept renewing the incomplete (and thus theoretically invalid) permit, all a demonstration of how meaningless and unintelligible the permit process was.

The marine mammal plan, had it been prepared, would be expected to contain measures that might or might not prevent whale strikes.

Fugro has consistently maintained that the whale killing would likely have happened even if there had been a NOAA-certified marine mammal observer on deck.

“During the hearing, it was noted that State scientists considered this tragic accident unavoidable, and not the result of Fugro Pelagos not following survey permit conditions,” Millar said.

“Nevertheless, we were deeply saddened by it. In the decades that the company has been in existence, no incident of this type has ever occurred and we acknowledge the loss that comes with the death of such a large and precious marine animal,” Millar said.

Fugro will carry a marine wildlife monitor in the future. Perhaps more importantly, State Lands has launched a process designed to standardize all permits and require more measures to protect marine mammals, as the permitting process originally intended.

At one point, state officials were working on a plan for better protections of marine mammals, but that effort collapsed due to the state budget crisis.

“I am very pleased that the State Lands Commission has finally required the multi-billion dollar international firm, Fugro, to abide by the same regulations to protect marine mammals that us small California survey companies have complied with for years,” Sullivan said in a statement after the meeting.

“At their meeting on Dec. 17, the State Lands Commission disclosed that Fugro and a new permit applicant, the California State University at Monterey Bay, have for years been conducting marine surveys without compliance with regulations to protect marine mammals,” Sullivan said.

A community effort stripped the whale of its flesh and buried the skeleton so it can be dug up later and displayed.

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FRANK HARTZELL, Mendocino Beacon, December 17, 2009

The Obama administration has launched a new “zoning” approach that puts all ocean activities under the umbrella of nine regional planning bodies.

Public comments are being accepted through Friday, Feb. 12.

The approach is more local and integrated than the current strategy, which puts separate functions under different federal agencies. But it remains to be seen how such a plan can satisfy a plethora of federal laws that now protect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes.

The issue of whales killed by ships (like the blue whale kill in October off Fort Bragg) is cited in the new report as an example of how the regional planning approach could solve problems that single agencies cannot.

In the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary off Boston, the Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and several other government agencies and stakeholders reconfigured the Boston Traffic Separation Scheme, after numerous fatal collisions between marine mammals and ships.

This kind of joint action is what the new Obama approach anticipates using nationwide.

The reconfigured shipping lanes reduced risk of collision by an estimated 81% for all baleen whales and 58% for endangered right whales, studies show.

NOAA is the lone federal agency dealing with the whale kill issue locally, working with two state agencies, which have regulations that are inconsistent. With the Fort Bragg incident highlighting weaknesses in the regulatory process, a regional board could propose solutions.

In another example of oversight conflict, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) planned and launched a policy for wave energy leasing completely without local governments’ knowledge. Other federal agencies also bombarded FERC with criticism and problems their federal fellow had failed to anticipate when FERC’s program came to light.

The Obama administration’s idea is to bring all the federal and local agencies to the table at the planning stage, not the reactive stage.

“The uses of our oceans, coasts and Great Lakes have expanded exponentially over time,” said Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, who also heads the Ocean Policy Task Force. “At the same time they are facing environmental challenges, including pollution and habitat destruction, that make them increasingly vulnerable.

“Without an improved, more thoughtful approach, we risk an increase in user conflicts and the potential loss of critical economic, ecosystem, social, and cultural benefits for present and future generations,” said Sutley, in a press release.

Many scientific studies have called for ocean zoning, but this is the first effort to make the idea work.

California, Oregon and Washington would be included in a single planning area The participants in the planning process, such as Indian tribes, federal agencies, states and local entities, would be asked to sign a contract modeled on development agreements.

Development agreements are widely used by housing developers to bring all county and state permitting agencies to the table so they can get loans and prepare to launch a project.

Sutley said the administration will reconvene the National Ocean Council to work with the regional planning bodies.

While the new approach promises more locally responsive planning, the job of the National Ocean Council will be to ensure that planning is consistent from region to region. That is likely to create some conflicts with monied interests representing some uses, such as oil drilling, and leave other uses with less ability to advocate at the table.

The proposal comes from the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, established by President Obama on June 12. It is led by Sutley and consists of 24 senior-level officials from administration agencies, departments and offices.

The task force’s interim framework is available for a 60-day public review and comment period. After the close of the comment period, the task force will finalize its recommendations in both this report and the Sept. 10 interim report and provide a final report to the President in early 2010.

For more details on the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, including the interim framework, and to submit comments, visit www.whitehouse.gov/oceans.

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DAVID R. BAKER, San Francisco Chronicle, December 12, 2009

The waves off of Vandenberg Air Force Base on the central California coast could one day generate electricity, if Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has its way.

The utility reported Friday that it has signed an agreement with the U.S. Air Force to study the area’s potential for a wave power project. If approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the project could one day generate as much as 100 megawatts of electricity. A megawatt is a snapshot figure, roughly equal to the amount of electricity used by 750 average homes at any given instant.

Wave power technologies have the potential to provide large amounts of electricity. But they have been slow to leave the lab.

The typical wave power system consists of buoys that generate electricity as they bob up and down on the ocean’s surface. But the ocean has proven tougher than some of the systems.

PG&E two years ago agreed to buy electricity from a proposed “wave park” near Eureka to be built by Canadian company Finavera. But Finavera’s prototype buoy sank during a test, and California energy regulators killed the deal.

Under its $6 million WaveConnect program, PG&E is still studying potential wave park sites off Humboldt County. The utility, based in San Francisco, also examined the Mendocino County coast before ruling it out.

Vandenberg makes an attractive test site. It occupies a bend in the coast of Santa Barbara County where some of the beaches face west, some face southwest and others face south. PG&E in particular wants to study the area between Point Arguello and Point Conception.

“Generally, that piece of the coast is very active for waves,” said PG&E spokesman Kory Raftery. “It picks up swells from different directions.”

If the company wins federal approval, it will study the area for three years before making a decision on whether to test wave power devices there. The company wants to test several different devices but has not yet picked which ones, Raftery said.

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FRANK HARTZELL, Fort Bragg Advocate News, November 27, 2009

Image by Larry R. Wagner

California’s regulatory system, designed to protect whales from science vessels will get some rethinking, following controversy over the October 19, 2009 death of a blue whale off Fort Bragg, a state official said.

The incident has highlighted an inconsistent and controversial regulatory system for which change was blocked by funding cuts due to the state budget crisis.

When the survey vessel Pacific Star struck the whale, it did not have a federally-approved whale spotter on board as required by the terms of its permit that this newspaper obtained from the California State Lands Commission.

Ship owner Fugro Pelagos, Inc. says both they had a valid permit and that they didn’t need one for the mapping being done when the whale was killed.

“There was no official whale observer on board because the work that was being done at the time did not require it,” said said James Hailstones of Fugro Pelagos. However, it contradicts a previous statement where he said an observer was present, as is required on all commercial vessels.

“The permit to which you refer pertains specifically to geophysical surveys, defined by state regulations as operations that measure and record physical properties of subsurface geologic structures,” said Hailstones.

“These are usually associated with mineral exploration and underwater resource development, and require higher-powered equipment than those aboard the Pacific Star. Instead, the vessel was conducting hydrographic survey work that is designed to simply measure the water depth above sea floor’s surface,” Hailstones said.

The permit states that Fugro is required to have “at least one person on board during survey operations that is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) approved marine wildlife monitor,…” during geophysical work.

A review of the permit confirms that it does apply to geophysical work as described by Hailstones and raises questions as to the efficiency of the regulation system.

Fugro, the largest company in the business the permit was created for, has never found a situation where the permit was needed. As evidence of that, the State Lands Commission permit demands a marine wildlife contingency plan be filed, which specifies information about interactions with marine mammals and reptiles. That plan has been completed but not filed because it isn’t needed, according to the current rules.

“A draft plan exists and is ready for use when we perform a geophysical survey. However, a tailored plan was not filed because there is no requirement to do so for the work that was being conducted,” Hailstones said.

Controversy over the incident and the permit has been stirred by Steve Sullivan, whose family operates Sea Surveyor, Inc., which competes with the larger Fugro Pelagos for surveying contracts. He says the permit was intended to apply to all types of mapping and surveying work.

Sullivan has been predicting for several years that lax and inconsistent regulation would lead to whale kills, state records show.

In interviews and letters broadcast on local radio and the Internet, Sullivan claimed that Fugro didn’t have a permit when it struck the whale.

This was refuted by Sheila Semans, a staff member of the Ocean Protection Council through the California Coastal Conservancy.

“[Fugro] did have a valid geophysical permit. I am told by the company that they have had a geophysical permit since they were required. What Mr. Sullivan fails to point out is that the permit that was issued on October 22, 2009 was effective starting Oct. 1, 2009,” Semans said.

She went on to explain that the permit was issued retroactively because of a series of delays, that were not the fault of Fugro.

Hailstones said the company had a permit issued October 1st, which was not issued retroactively.

How the work Pacific Star was doing at the time of the whale strike may or may not fit into the intent of the permit is a topic in an investigation into the whale strike by NOAA.

Scientists generally believe that the kind of sonar the Pacific Star was using isn’t harmful to whales and some believe they can’t even hear it. However, all say more study is needed.

One study says whales, which can hear for long distances, are becoming confused due to the increasing noise level in the oceans caused by all human activity.

Publicity following the death of the blue whale may revive efforts killed by the state budget crisis to clarify and expand permits and the understanding of the effects of all types of sonar on whales.

“Because of the confusion and disagreement about what the geophysical permit should cover, State Lands has asked [ the Ocean Protection Council] to fund further investigation into any potential impacts from passive equipment’ such as the sonar use for seafloor mapping,” Semans said.

“We have not been able to fund any new projects since December 2008 so discussions have stopped. But I’d imagine this incident will resurrect those discussions once we can spend money again,” she said.

Sullivan argues that the permit was required when the strike happened but says there is a larger issue.

“That’s just paperwork, my main complaint for the past few years is they and others up and down the coast are not taking the precautions needed and required to protect marine mammals,” he said

Sullivan says the Department of Fish and Game itself, along with study vessels operated by universities, operate such surveys without following permits and without complying with regulations designed to protect marine mammals.

He says he first confronted the State Lands Commission, then found that body had no meaningful enforcement power. Recently, he appeared before the Ocean Protection Council in an effort to cut funding to the efforts until marine mammal concerns could be met, a meeting video shows.

Sullivan said that because of the way modern hydrography works, those involved are using only a narrow beam of sonar, which would be unlikely to detect whales.

“The captain is not looking out the window anymore. That’s why you need the special spotters. You don’t see a whale unless you are looking for them,” Sullivan said.

Hailstones said Fugro keeps an eye out for whales, along with other marine hazards.

“Personnel onboard the bridge of the Pacific Star are always on watch for dangers to navigation, other vessels, crab and lobster pot buoys and marine mammals and obviously try to avoid such incidents,” said Hailstones.

The 176-foot Pacific Star completed its mapping work for the state and is now back in drydock in Seattle, Hailstones said.

Sullivan thinks the size of the vessel may have been a contributing cause to the whale strike. He said the work only requires a 50-foot vessel and says use of such a large ship in whale migratory waters is irresponsible. He said a larger ship makes it much harder to see whales and more likely for a strike to be fatal.

“Being experts in our field, we utilize the correct vessel for the application,” Hailstones said.

“The Pacific Star is similar in size to others used in safely conducting offshore and coastal hydrographic surveys. Much larger vessels than the Pacific Star sail California waters every day and do so at far greater speeds than the 6.5 miles per hour the Pacific Star was doing at the time of the incident,” Hailstones said.

Hailstones said the whale apparently surfaced under the propellers in the rear section of the boat and was not struck by the bow.

Sullivan says the propellers of his survey vessels are protected by screens that would keep them from inflicting a fatal wound should there ever be a whale strike.

“The Pacific Star — like 99.9% of the world’s ships — does not have screens surrounding their screws,” said Hailstones.

“Not only would this be impractical to retrofit for the majority of vessels, but the possible negative consequences far outweigh the positives,” Hailstones said. “Screens would offer a large surface area for marine growth to flourish or even water borne garbage to accumulate, it wouldn’t be long before a vessel’s ability to make way would be severely hampered as a screw relies on the ability of large volumes of water to pass by unobstructed.”

Hailstones said the greatest nemesis for a vessel propeller is rope in the water.

“A screen would pose a great catch’ mechanism for rope and often, when rope gets caught in a vessel screw, the vessel is dead in the water, which poses a great risk to the human life onboard,” Hailstones said

One thing Hailstones and Sullivan agree on is that this incident is a first time in anyone’s memory that a survey vessel has reported striking and killing a whale.

“Our company and our sister companies utilize hundreds of vessels in thousands of miles of oceans and seas worldwide to conduct such operations, and are proud of our long-standing safety record. In the company’s 45-year history, Fugro (including Fugro Pelagos) has never been involved in such an unfortunate incident before,” Hailstones said.

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Dan Bacher, October 23, 2009

Image by Larry R. Wagner

Image by Larry R. Wagner

Environmentalists and fishermen on California’s North Coast are calling for an independent investigation into the killing of an endangered blue whale off Fort Bragg by a mapping survey boat contracted by NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service.

In order to stop the killing of any more whales, locals are also asking for an immediate suspension of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) process that the boat was collecting habitat data for.

The 72-foot female blue whale, a new mother, perished on Monday, October 19, after being hit by the 78-foot Pacific Star, under contract to NOAA to update maps of the ocean floor

Jim Milbury, spokesman for the National Marine Fisheries Service, said the boat was doing multi-sonar beam surveys to update marine charts and to determine the habitat to be used in state and federal marine protected area designations.

“We know that the whale’s death was caused by the collision with the boat because the boat crew called us to report the collision,” said Milbury. “After the collision, the dead whale washed up on the beach off Fort Bragg.”

Collisions with boats are relatively infrequent, but the Fort Bragg blue whale was the second to perish from a collision with a boat this fall. On October 9, a 50-foot blue whale was found floating in a kelp bed off Big Sur along the Monterey County coast after an undetermined vessel hit it.

The National Geographic and other media outlets gushed that the Fort Bragg blue whale’s death provided a unique opportunity for scientists to study a whale.

“Though unable to move the blue whale, scientists and students are leaping at the research opportunity, scrambling down rock faces to take tissue samples and eventually one of the 11-foot-long (3.5-meter-long) flippers,” according to an article at National Geographic.

However, fishermen, environmentalists and seaweed harvesters are outraged that the vessel, conducting surveys designed to designate habitat to be included in no-fishing zones that will kick Indian Tribes, fishermen and seaweed harvesters off their traditional areas, was negligent in trying to avoid a collision with the whale. Many believe that the sonar beams coming from the boat may have disoriented the whale, causing it to collide with the boat.

Fearing the endangered animals could soon become extinct, the International Whaling Commission banned all hunting of blue whales in 1966. There are now an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 blue whales in the Northern Hemisphere. The longest known blue whale measured 106 feet long and 200 tons. Whales are an average life span of 80 to 90 years.

Local environmentalists and fishermen have decided to name the dead whale “Jane” after Jane Lubchenko, the NOAA administrator who is running the federal fishery “management” scheme that resulted in the whale’s death.

“The NOAA vessel was mapping both federal and state waters, and part of that data will be used in the MLPA process,” said Jim Martin, West Coast Regional Director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance. “I guarantee you she wants to have a federal MPA process to close large chunks of the ocean out to 200 miles. The state MLPA process is just the beginning.”

The RFA, Ocean Protection Coalition and other conservation groups have asked for a suspension of the MLPA process, due to lack of dedicated funding, numerous conflicts of interests by MLPA decision makers and the lack of clarity about what type of activities are allowed in reserves. This tragic incident only highlights the urgent need to suspend the corrupt and out-of-control MLPA corporate greenwashing process that is opposed by the vast majority of North Coast residents.

“How many blue whales must be killed in the name of so-called ‘ocean protection,’” asked Martin. “How many of these beautiful and magnificent animals must be sacrificed at the altar of corporate-funded marine ‘protection’?”

Martin emphasized, “The whale is a metaphor for North Coast communities who have been run over by NOAA, an agency on auto pilot. The Department of Fish and Game is riding their coattails using this habitat data in the MLPA process.”

Among the communities of the North Coast dramatically impacted by the corrupt MLPA process is the Kashia Pomo Tribe, who have sustainably harvested seaweed, mussels and abalone off Stewarts Point for centuries. However, the California Fish and Game Commission in August, under orders from Governor Arnold Schwarzeneger, banned the Kashia Tribe, seaweed harvesters, fishermen and abalone divers from their traditional harvesting areas in Sonoma and Mendocino counties.

As Lester Pinola, past chairman of the Kashia Rancheria, said in a public hearing prior to the Commission August 5 vote, “What you are doing to us is taking the food out of our mouths. When the first settlers came to the coast, they didn’t how to feed themselves. Our people showed them how to eat out of the ocean. In my opinion, this was a big mistake.”

Everybody who cares about the health of our oceans and coastal communities should support a full, independent and impartial investigation of the killing of “Jane ” the whale by a NOAA contract boat. At the same time, the MLPA process, rife with conflict of interests, mission creep and corruption of the democratic process, should be immediately suspended.

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Editor’s Note:  When walking Manny, my dog, at Seaside Beach on the Mendocino coast on October 3rd, I noticed evidence from the tsunami in the dramatically high water markings left behind and advised below:

Ukiah Daily Journal, September 29, 2009

wave-ocean-blue-sea-water-white-foam-photoA 25-inch tsunami is expected to hit the Mendocino Coast tonight at 8:53 p.m., according to county and federal officials.

An 8-magnitude earthquake Tuesday morning near Pago Pago, American Samoa triggered a tsunami advisory for the California coast. The National Weather Service issued the advisory for the California and Oregon coasts, warning of possible dangerous currents.

“We’re advising people not to go out in their boats and stay away from low-lying areas,” Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said Tuesday evening.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center says an advisory means that a tsunami capable of producing strong currents or waves dangerous to persons in or very near the water in imminent or expected.

Widespread inundation is not expected.

The waves are expected to begin arriving about 9 p.m. and built toward the most hazardous period early Wednesday morning.

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TODD WOODY, The New York Times, August 12, 2009

wave-ocean-blue-sea-water-white-foam-photoPacific Gas & Electric has quietly dropped one of two planned 40-megawatt wave-farm projects.
Stroll through San Francisco and you can’t miss California utility Pacific Gas & Electric’s latest ad campaign. Posters plastered around town read: “Wave Power: Bad for sandcastles. Good for you.”

But PG&E recently dropped one of its two 40-megawatt wave-farm projects planned for the Northern California coast, according to documents filed with the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission.

“During the past year, PG&E undertook agency consultation and public outreach and commenced an examination of the technical and environmental feasibility of the proposed project,” wrote utility attorney Annette Faraglia in a June 9 letter to the commission. “Based on the results of this examination, PG&E has concluded that the harbor at Fort Bragg, Noyo Harbor, is not suitable for certain aspects of the project.”

In 2007, the utility had applied for federal permits to explore the feasibility of placing wave energy generators in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Humboldt and Mendocino counties.

The scuttling of the project is just the latest setback for wave energy. Last year, California regulators also declined to approve a PG&E contract to buy a small amount of electricity from a Northern California wave farm to be built by Finavera Renewables, on the grounds the project was not viable.

Despite the difficulties, PG&E is pushing forward with a similar wave project in Humboldt county. The utility has cut that project’s size from 136 square miles to 18 square miles as it zeroes in on the most productive areas of the ocean. Ms. Morris said that the utility expects to file a license application for the pilot project in the spring of 2010.

However, the National Marine Fisheries Service has identified a plethora of protected species that may be affected by the Humboldt project, ranging from endangered coho salmon to the northern elephant seal and long-beaked common dolphin.

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MendoCoastCurrent, May 20, 2009

Mendocino-Energy-Mill-SiteAt this core energy technology incubator, energy policy is created as renewable energy technologies and science move swiftly from white boards and white papers to testing, refinement and implementation.

The Vision

Mendocino Energy is located on the Mendocino coast, three plus hours north of San Francisco/Silicon Valley. On the waterfront of Fort Bragg, utilizing a portion of the now-defunct Georgia-Pacific Mill Site to innovate in best practices, cost-efficient, safe renewable and sustainable energy development – wind, wave, solar, bioremediation, green-ag/algae, smart grid and grid technologies, et al.

The process is collaborative in creating, identifying and engineering optimum, commercial-scale, sustainable, renewable energy solutions…with acumen.

Start-ups, utilities companies, universities (e.g. Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford), EPRI, the federal government (FERC, DOE, DOI) and the world’s greatest minds gathering at this fast-tracked, unique coming-together of a green work force and the U.S. government, creating responsible, safe renewable energy technologies to quickly identify best commercialization candidates and build-outs.

The campus is quickly constructed on healthy areas of the Mill Site as in the past, this waterfront, 400+ acre industry created contaminated areas where mushroom bioremediation is underway.

Determining best sitings for projects in solar thermal, wind turbines and mills, algae farming, bioremediation; taking the important first steps towards establishing U.S. leadership in renewable energy and the global green economy.

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Editors Note:  On June 9, 2009, PG&E filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) a petition to release the Mendocino WaveConnect preliminary permit.

wave-ocean-blue-sea-water-white-foam-photoMendoCoastCurrent, May 11, 2009

In early May 2009, PG&E’s WaveConnect team decided to cancel the Mendocino WaveConnect project because the Noyo Harbor didn’t pass muster and was deemed insufficient in several engineering aspects, therefore unable to support PG&E’s Mendocino WaveConnect pilot wave energy program offshore.

PG&E summarily rejected re-situating the launch site to the Fort Bragg Mill Site, only a short distance from the Noyo Harbor, where PG&E could construct a state-of-the-art launch for Mendocino WaveConnect.

PG&E plans to report their decision to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and anticipates surrendering the Mendocino WaveConnect FERC pilot wave energy permit. The City of Fort Bragg, County of Mendocino and the FISH Committee were brought up to speed by PG&E on May 11th.

PG&E had raised $6mm in funding from CPUC and DOE for WaveConnect, allocated to both Mendocino and Humboldt projects. This remaining funds will now be directed to only Humboldt WaveConnect.

And PG&E notes that Humboldt WaveConnect, at Humboldt Bay and its harbor, offers WaveConnect the required spaciousness and the industrial infrastructure as well as a welcoming, interested community.

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Excerpts of FRANK HARTZELL’s article, Mendocino Beacon, May 7, 2009

gweclogo1GreenWave Energy Solutions, an “alternative energy startup has been granted a three-year preliminary permit to study wave energy off Mendocino.

It’s locals’ first look at action by a newly recast Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which is tasked by the Obama Administration to make a greater push to develop alternative energy.

On May 1, FERC issued an exclusive preliminary permit to GreenWave Energy Solutions LLC. The permit’s area stretches from just north of Albion to off Point Cabrillo, about a half-mile from shore to three miles offshore.

Five men from the Thousand Oaks area of Southern California, including Tony Strickland, a Republican state senator, formed GreenWave Energy Solutions about two years ago.

Strickland, one of the state’s most ardent deregulators and anti-tax advocates, won the state Legislature’s closest race last November by a handful of votes. He made his involvement in alternative energy a key part of his campaign.

Green Wave Energy Solutions is composed of president Wayne Burkamp, Strickland, engineer Bill Bustamante, developer Dean Kunicki and developer Gary Gorian. Kunicki and Gorian are major real estate developers in Southern California.

The preliminary permit reserves that area solely for GreenWave and also gives the company first rights to apply for a long-term power license in state waters.”

“The GreenWave proposal envisions eventual construction of a power plant with more than twice the capacity of that planned by PG&E. GreenWave’s Burkamp said the firm is not a shell corporation or a subsidiary of any other company.

GreenWave hopes to someday install 10 to 100 Pelamis or OPT hydrokinetic devices capable of producing 100 megawatts, with a 2- to 3-mile long powerline running to shore, the permit application states.

FERC’s permit conditions for GreenWave don’t vary much from those imposed by FERC under the former Bush Administration.

But locals made this preliminary permit one of the longest ever. And the application has more interveners and more people commenting than any other “hydrokinetic” project in the nation. FERC has issued and is considering hydrokinetic permits from the Yukon River to the Florida Keys for wave, tidal, ocean current and river flow power.

While issuing the permit, FERC briefly responds to each point raised by locals.

“As for the concerns raised by Mendocino County and Laurel Krause regarding the financial capability and experience of the applicant, it has been the Commission’s policy for some time that, at least where there is no competition for a permit, the Commission will not base grant of the permit on proof of an applicant’s ability to finance or perform studies under the permit,” FERC wrote. “However, as discussed below, application of the Commission’s strict scrutiny policy may include cancellation of the permit if the applicant is unable to demonstrate, for financial or other reasons, adequate progress toward the possible development of a license application.”

Although FERC is an independent agency, President Obama appointed Jon Wellinghoff as chairman of the five-member commission after the chairman under President Bush resigned and left FERC. With the commission now split 2-2 between Republicans and Democrats, Obama now has the opportunity to change its direction with his appointment of a new fifth member.

FERC also recently accepted three preliminary permit applications from Sonoma County to study wave energy off its shores, a nod to local government that signals a change of direction for the independent federal commission.

That change began when Mendocino County and the City of Fort Bragg protested exclusion from the process and a lawsuit was threatened.

The permit is the first wave energy permit since the Obama Administration released new standards for the process of generating alternative energy on the outer continental shelf.

Under that plan, FERC has complete control of the wave energy process inside three miles. For projects like PG&E’s wave energy proposal, which extends on both sides of the three-mile line, a Minerals Management Service lease is required past state waters. PG&E withdrew from its efforts to get a MMS lease last year.

GreenWave’s permit area appears to extend just beyond the three-mile limit. John Romero of MMS said neither PG&E or GreenWave has sought a lease from MMS.

GreenWave’s application says the initial phase will involve spending between $1 million and $2 million and will be financed entirely through private equity.

“The estimated cost of the second phase (the actual installation of wave energy devices in the water and the generation of power from these devices) will be $20 million to $40 million,” the application states.

Burkamp told the newspaper that GreenWave’s application is different from PG&E’s in that GreenWave will focus on solving environmental issues, while PG&E Wave Connect is set up to test rival technologies.

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Editors Note:  On May 11, 2009, PG&E pulled-out of Mendocino WaveConnect, read it here: http://tinyurl.com/qwlbg6 . The remains of the $6M are now solely allocated to Humboldt WaveConnect.

MendoCoastCurrent, January 29, 2009

wave-ocean-blue-sea-water-white-foam-photoPG&E caught a major renewable energy wave today as the California Public Utilities Commission approved $4.8 million in funding their centerpiece wave energy project, WaveConnect. The program also received an additional $1.2 million in matching funds from the Department of Energy. PG&E’s WaveConnect, a project already two years in the making, launches with a $6M kitty.

WaveConnect is chartered with exploring wave energy development off the coasts of Mendocino and Humboldt counties in Northern California. The stakeholders in this region are dyed-in-the-wool political activists, living in environmentally-centric coastal communities and have reacted protectively, sounding alarms that PG&E and the Federal government’s wave energy plans may foul, diminish and destroy the Pacific Ocean and marine life.

Over the two years that PG&E and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) advanced WaveConnect, only recently have environmental concerns and study become part of the discussion. The opportunity for Mendocino and Humboldt coastal communities and local governments to embrace wave energy development and connect with WaveConnect has not gone well, especially as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has disallowed the City of Fort Bragg and local fishermen to be party in the WaveConnect FERC Preliminary Permitting.

Jonathan Marshall, publisher of Next100, a PG&E blog, wrote “PG&E’s first step will be to conduct meetings with local stakeholders and agencies to learn about their issues and concerns. After completing appropriate environmental reviews and permit applications, which could take a couple of years, PG&E then plans to build an undersea infrastructure, including power transmission cables, to support wave energy demonstration projects. The utility will then invite manufacturers of wave energy devices to install them offshore for testing and comparison.”

“The anticipated cost of wave power compares favorably to the early days of solar and wind,” says William Toman, WaveConnect project manager at PG&E. “It will take several stages of design evolution to lower costs and increase reliability.” The CPUC and the DOE are betting on this evolution as in this funding scenario engineered by PG&E, the CPUC awards $4.8M in ratepayer funds while the DOE $1.2M is a matching grant.

Wave energy may become a key source of renewable energy in California. It’s proposed that the 745-mile coastline could produce 1/5th of California’s energy needs if, admittedly a big if, economic, environmental, land use and grid connection issues — and community issues — don’t stand in the way.

Marshall wrote in closing “Making ocean power technology work reliably and at a competitive price will be the first big challenge. Serving offshore installations with power transmission lines will be another economic and engineering hurdle. Finally, ocean power developers must also convince local communities and government regulators that their installations will not destroy marine life, cause boating collisions or navigational hazards, or degrade ocean views.”

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Please Take Action By MONDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2009 before 2:00 pm!

MendoCoastCurrent, January 29, 2009

ferc_seal1Just a couple of weeks ago, Ann Miles, Director of Hydropower Licensing at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission visited the Mendocino coast.  The centerpiece of her presentation on January 13, 2009 at Fort Bragg Town Hall was to explain the FERC Hydokinetic Licensing process.

For all those present at the meeting, Ms. Miles informed the Mendocino community of the WRONG DATE to file citizen Motions to Intervene in the Green Wave LLC proposed FERC project on the Mendocino village coastline.

FERC has kindly updated the mis-information and has indicated they wish to have the correct date promoted.  This correct date to file Motions to Intervene (directions follow) is now Monday, February 9, 2009 no later than 2:00 P.M. PST.

* * * * * * * *

Here’s a novel and effective way for you, your company and your family to state your position to the Federal Government on Mendocino wave energy development. It’s pretty simple to do, it’s empowering and it’s effective in that each filing can make a difference. Interested? Read on.

This action relates to Green Wave Energy Solutions’ application for a wave energy Preliminary Permit that was recently accepted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Since early December 2008, FERC has enabled a process for the public and interested parties to share their views (intervene).  The best way to participate is go online to the FERC web site and use the guide below to share your views on the Green Wave FERC hydrokinetic application.

Click on this HERE for a step-by-step instruction guide authored by Elizabeth Mitchell, FERC Coordinator for Fishermen Interested in Safe Hydrokinetics, FISH.

More about the FERC and Green Wave Energy Solutions Mendocino Wave Energy Permit

An application for a wave energy project in the ocean off Mendocino, California has been filed by Green Wave Energy Solutions, LLC.  Green Wave has made an application to put 10 to 100 wave energy devices in 17 square miles of ocean, between 0.5 and 2.6 miles offshore, running roughly north and south between the Navarro River and Point Cabrillo on the North Coast of California.

On December 9, 2008, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) began the permit process for the project by issuing a “Notice of Preliminary Permit Applications Accepted for Filing and Soliciting Comment, Motions to Intervene, and Competing Applications.”  

The law provides that interested individuals and organizations may become parties to the permit process.  In order to become a party, you and/or your organization(s) must file a “Motion to Intervene.”  The deadline for intervening in the Green Wave Project is Monday, February 9, 2009 by 2:00 P.M. PST.

You may intervene no matter what your current views are on the merits of wave energy.  Intervention gives you a place at the table as a full party to the permit process.  It also enables you to appeal future FERC rulings with respect to the permit. 

Intervening is not difficult, and you do not have to be a lawyer to do it.  If you file your motion to intervene by the Monday, February 9, 2009 deadline, and no one opposes your intervention, you automatically become a party after 15 days.

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Let Your Voice Be Heard by March 23, 2009

by MendoCoastCurrent and pointarenabasin

Beginning January 22, 2009 and ending on March 23, 2009, a 60-day Public Comment Period opened regarding new offshore oil and gas exploration and drilling in the pristine waters off northern California.

And while this is a multi-step process and before things are cast in stone, NOW is the time to share your views.

FROM THE FEDERAL REGISTER – REQUEST FOR PUBLIC COMMENTS

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR – Minerals Management Service

Request for Comments on the Draft Proposed 5-Year Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2010-2015 and Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Proposed 5-Year Program

AGENCY: Minerals Management Service, Interior.

ACTION: Request for Comments.

SUMMARY: The Minerals Management Service (MMS) requests comments on the Draft Proposed 5-year OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2010-2015 (DPP). This draft proposal is for a new oil and gas program to succeed the current program that is currently set to expire on June 30, 2012, and forms the basis for conducting the studies and analyses the Secretary will consider in making future decisions on what areas of the OCS to include in the program.

DATES: Please submit comments and information to the MMS no later than March 23, 2009.

LINK:  Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Under the tab “More Search Options,” click “Advanced Docket Search,” then select “Minerals Management Service” from the agency drop-down menu, then click the submit button. In the Docket ID column, select MMS-2008-OMM-0045 to submit public comments and to view related materials available for this Notice.

Mail or hand-carry comments to the Department of the Interior; Minerals Management Service; Attention: Leasing Division (LD); 381 Elden Street, MS-4010; Herndon, Virginia 20170-4817. Please reference “2010-2015 Oil and Gas Leasing in the Outer Continental Shelf,” in your comments and include your name and return address.

Summary of the Draft Proposed Program

In developing the DPP for 2010-2015, the MMS considered oil and gas leasing in the areas of the OCS that are included in the current 5-year program for 2007-2012 and additional areas off Alaska, Pacific coast, the Gulf of Mexico, and Atlantic coast. Some of these additional areas had been subject to annual congressional moratoria prohibiting oil and gas leasing. However, the moratoria expired on September 30, 2008. The DPP includes lease sales in offshore areas that have the highest oil and gas resource values and highest industry interest.

It has been promoted that 47 comments from oil and gas companies or associations nominated specific planning areas to be included in the new 5-Year program; some nominated all planning area.  

Wave energy reporter Frank Hartzell claims that the nominations may have been fabricated, see In Last Days, Bush Inflicts North Coast Offshore Oil Plan.

Table A–Draft Proposed Program for 2010-2015–Lease Sale Schedule

———————————————————————

Sale Number Area Year

———————————————————————

236…………………… Northern California………..2014

Pacific Region

The Pacific Region consists of 4 planning areas–Washington-Oregon, Northern California, Central California, and Southern California. The DPP schedules one sale in the Northern California Planning Area and two in the Southern California Planning Area. The proposed sales are in areas of known hydrocarbon potential – the Point Arena Basin in Northern California.

Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Preparation

Pursuant to section 102(2)(C) of NEPA, the MMS intends to prepare an EIS for the new 5-year OCS oil and gas leasing program for 2010-2015. This notice starts the formal scoping process for the EIS under 40 CFR 1501.7, and solicits information regarding issues and alternatives that should be evaluated in the EIS. The EIS will analyzethe potential impacts of the adoption of the proposed 5-year program.

The comments that MMS has received in response to the August 2008, Request for Comments, and the comments received during scoping for the 2007-2012 5-Year EIS have identified environmental issues and concerns that MMS will consider in the EIS. In summary, these include climate change as an impact factor in cumulative analyses, the effects of the OCS program on climate change, potential impacts from accidental oil spills, potential impacts to tourism and recreation activities, and ecological impacts from potential degradation of marine and coastal habitats. Additionally alternatives will be developed and analyzed during the EIS process based on scoping comments and governmental communications. Alternatives may include increasing or decreasing the number or frequency of sales, coastal buffers, limiting areas available for leasing, and excluding parts of or entire planning areas.

Scoping Meetings

Meetings will be held between now and March 23, 2009 to receive scoping comments on the EIS including –

Ft. Bragg/Ukiah, California; TBA

Next Steps in the Process

The MMS plans to issue the proposed program and draft EIS in mid-summer 2009 for a 90-day comment period and plans to issue the proposed final program and final EIS in spring 2010. The Secretary of the Interior may approve the new 5-year program 60 days later to go into effect as of July 1, 2010.

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JANE KAY, San Francisco Chronicle, January 17, 2009

ba-drilling0117__sfcg1232159552_part1The U.S. Interior Department, acting in President Bush’s final days in office, proposed on Friday opening up 130 million acres off of California’s coast to drilling for oil and natural gas, including areas off Humboldt and Mendocino counties and from San Luis Obispo south to San Diego.

After a hands-off policy for a quarter-century, the administration submitted plans to sell oil and gas leases for most of the U.S. coast, from the Gulf of Maine to Chesapeake Bay and the Outer Banks of North Carolina to the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Coast.

New drilling also was proposed in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, one of the nation’s most plentiful sources of fish, and the Arctic Ocean.

Washington, Oregon and protected parts of Florida were excluded along with waters off San Francisco Bay that lie within national marine sanctuaries.

On Friday, the American Petroleum Institute, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups greeted the news with praise, saying it is time for domestic energy supplies to be released from the moratorium.

But environmental groups and some Democratic leaders who oppose California drilling criticized the 11th-hour move, vowing to work with the Obama administration to promote energy independence based on clean, renewable technologies.

“President Bush’s last-ditch effort to open our coasts to new drilling is nothing more than a parting gift to his buddies in the oil and gas industry,” said Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, a member of the House Natural Resources Committee.

On the eve of the 40th anniversary of the platform blowout that spilled 3 million gallons of black crude oil on 35 miles of beaches around Santa Barbara, Capps said, “New offshore drilling would not lower gas prices, make us more energy independent or get our economy back on track.”

Richard Charter, a longtime environmental lobbyist who now works for the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, called the government’s move “an extremist act.”

“What we see today is the political equivalent of a rock star trashing the hotel room right before checkout,” he said.

The Interior Department used a lapse in the congressional moratorium in October and a cancellation of a presidential prohibition in July to set in motion the lease-sale program – which the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama could cancel or proceed with.

Obama has said he would consider some offshore oil drilling as part of a comprehensive energy plan. Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., Obama’s pick for interior secretary, hasn’t given his views on offshore drilling in California. He said in his confirmation hearings Thursday that he will confer with the administration’s team.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, along with the governors of Oregon and Washington, opposes new offshore oil drilling despite the new revenue it would offer the cash-strapped state.

The federal government has failed to make a case for a new program because energy resources are insignificant in the Atlantic, Pacific and eastern Gulf of Mexico, already-sold leases aren’t being used, and no protections are in place to protect the environment, the governors said.

In Friday’s announcement, Interior Department officials proposed three new lease sales, one in Northern California and two in Southern California in “areas with known hydrocarbon potential.” The proposals, which were based on requests from seven oil companies that weren’t named, would include:

— As many as 44 million acres of federal waters, which start 3 miles from the shoreline, off Humboldt and Mendocino counties.

— As many as 89 million acres off of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego counties. One lease would require equipment operating at a diagonal to drill within the Santa Barbara Ecological Preserve. In Southern California, there are 79 existing leases with 43 producing and 36 undeveloped.

There will be a 60-day comment period, with hearings in Ukiah, Fort Bragg, Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Diego. Dates for the hearings have not been announced.

If sales are allowed, they could occur as soon as 2014.

About 60%  of California citizens who commented on new oil-and-gas development were opposed to new drilling, according to the Interior Department’s oil-drilling agency, the Minerals Management Service.

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MendoCoastCurrent, January 17, 2009

Here’s the post from MendoCoastCurrent in the Citizen’s Briefing Book at President-elect Barack Obama’s change.gov site:

Renewable Energy Development (RED) federal task force

Immediately establish and staff a Renewable Energy Development (RED) federal task force chartered with exploring and fast-tracking the development, exploration and commercialization of environmentally-sensitive renewable energy solutions in solar, wind, wave, green-ag, et al.

At this ‘world-class incubator,’ federal energy policy development is created as cutting-edge technologies and science move swiftly from white boards and white papers to testing to refinement and implementation.

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

If you wish to support this, please vote up this post at :

Renewable Energy Development (RED) federal task force.

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

Mendocino Energy:

Renewable energy incubator and campus on the Mendocino coast exploring nascent and organic technology solutions in wind, wave, solar, green-ag, bioremediation and coastal energy, located on the 400+ acre waterfront G-P Mill site.

Mendocino Energy may be a Campus in Obama’s Renewable Energy Development (RED) federal task force.

Vision:

Mendocino Energy is located on the Mendocino coast, three plus hours north of San Francisco/Silicon Valley.  On the waterfront of Fort Bragg, a portion of the now-defunct Georgia-Pacific Mill Site shall be used for exploring best practices, cost-efficient, environmentally-sensitive renewable and sustainable energy development – wind, wave, solar, bioremediation, green-ag, among many others. The end goal is to identify and engineer optimum, commercial-scale, sustainable, renewable energy solutions.

Start-ups, universities (e.g., Stanford’s newly-funded energy institute), the federal government (RED) and the world’s greatest minds working together to create, collaborate, compete and participate in this fast-tracked exploration.

The campus is quickly constructed of green, temp-portable structures (also a green technology) on the healthiest areas of the Mill Site as in the past, this waterfront, 400+ acre created contaminated areas where mushroom bioremediation is currently being tested (one more sustainable technology requiring exploration). So, readying the site and determining best sites for solar thermal, wind turbines and mills, wave energy, etc.

To learn more about these technologies, especially wave energy, RSS MendoCoastCurrent.

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FRANK HARTZELL’s article with MendoCoastCurrent edits, January 15, 2009

After nearly two years of local pleas for specifics on the WaveConnect project, PG&E representatives surprised Fort Bragg and Mendocino County representatives with many new details.

Those included the promise by PG&E that all environmental studies would be public, not private information. In the recent past, PG&E had been resisting calls by competitors and ratepayer advocates before the California Public Utilities Commission to make public more information learned during the WaveConnect study.

Another surprise was that PG&E has found about 10 different viable wave energy technologies — far more than first envisioned. The utility will choose the top three or four wave energy devices and test those under a pilot project license.

On Tuesday, the pilot license process became the biggest issue for wave energy officials gathered at Town Hall to hear two top officials explain the roles of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, and the California Coastal Commission.

Both Tom Luster, who will oversee all wave energy projects for the California Coastal Commission and 23-year FERC veteran Ann Miles, FERC Director of Hydropower Licensing said Fort Bragg has had more interest in wave energy than anywhere else in California.

Miles said PG&E would need to file for a conventional license by this March under FERC rules. Using the “faster” pilot license gives them until March 2010 to get started.

Miles provided lengthy and knowledgeable explanations of convoluted FERC processes during the three-hour meeting. But PG&E’s new announcements, which came in private meetings last week, overshadowed the presentations by the top state and federal officials.

Luster explained how the California Coastal Commission would work with the State Lands Commission to review any wave energy project within three miles of shore.

PG&E is now saying their 40-megawatt powerplant will be located “well beyond” that three-mile state limit. The powerplant would likely come after the five-year pilot project license.

That announcement unexpectedly changed the game for the state.

Luster said the big power cable that extends to shore would be regulated by the Coastal Commission, but development beyond three miles would be regulated only for “federal consistency.”

While planning for an eventual project many miles from shore, PG&E will give up on areas more than three miles from shore for now, they have told FERC.

PG&E told Fort Bragg they would site the pilot project much closer to shore, to avoid the jurisdictional conflict between FERC and fellow federal agency Minerals Management Service, or MMS.

FERC claims the authority to be the regulatory authority for all water energy projects in the United States. MMS claims authority for ocean federal waters, which are those more than three miles from shore.

PG&E’s 68-square-mile preliminary permit area, which runs from Point Cabrillo to Cleone and to more than three miles offshore, will be trimmed down to eliminate areas beyond the federal-state jurisdiction line.

PG&E representatives are now promising significant help to local governments.

It was reported that all of the power generated by the 40 megawatt WaveConnect would be consumed in Mendocino County and would provide for nearly all of Fort Bragg’s electric demand when WaveConnect is generating.

Additionally, PG&E intends to pay their expenses, including reviewing, permitting and the community process for public participation.

Miles said FERC has no requirements in place to determine that a developer be able to pay for removal of devices in case of bankruptcy or disaster.

Luster said the State Lands Commission handles financial arrangements, such as bonding of projects.

Miles was making her first ever visit to Northern California. She was set to answer questions from the general public at a Town Hall forum Tuesday night.

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CBS 5 with MendoCoastCurrent edits, January 8, 2009

oil_rigNew legislation may prevent oil drilling off the California coast in Sonoma, Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties.

Growing concern about the nation’s reliance on foreign oil has led to rekindled enthusiasm in some quarters for coastal oil drilling, and renewed efforts to protect the Northern California coast.

Two bills introduced when Congress convened this week place a ban on coastal oil drilling in Northern California, one by creating a marine sanctuary off the Sonoma coast. 

Rep. Lynn Woolsey of Marin and Sonoma counties attempted to push the marine sanctuary bill through when a 26-year moratorium on offshore oil drilling expired last year. 

Another bill by Rep. Mike Thompson of Northern California permanently bans drilling off the coasts of Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties. 

Both said without quick action, new oil rigs may soon dot California’s coast.

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MendoCoastCurrent, January 7, 2009

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Joseph T. Kelliher today issued the following statement:

Today I announce my intention to step down as chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), effective January 20, 2009. Although my term as commissioner does not end until 2012, I will also immediately begin to recuse myself from FERC business, as I explore other career opportunities.  

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JOHN DRISCOLL, The Times-Standard, December 15, 2008

A white paper commissioned by the state of California says that tapping the ocean for power should be done carefully.

The report for the California Energy Commission and the Ocean Protection Council looked at the possible socio-economic and environmental effects of the infant industry, including what it might mean for fisheries and coastal habitat.

It also made recommendations on what research should be done to address those potential effects.

The waters remain murky in regard to what type of technology wave energy projects might use, and the scope of necessary development. The study finds that it will be key to fill in that missing information to determine what impacts they might have.

“Site selection and project scale are critical factors in anticipating these potential effects,” the report reads.

Depending on their size and location, the study reads, commercial and sport fisheries might be impacted, but new projects would yield construction and operations jobs for nearby communities.

But projects could also interfere with wave shoaling and beach building by stripping some energy out of waves, and that in turn could affect species from the high tide line out to the continental shelf.

The buoys or other structures designed to convert wave power to electricity are also likely to act like artificial reefs where reef-related fish would congregate, the report reads, a change from what would typically occur in the open ocean.

Birds and marine mammals may also be affected, but likely to a small degree, the study found.

Still, the report concludes that there aren’t any dramatic impacts expected, and recommends that the push to develop projects proceed carefully, listing a slew of research that should be done to help understand the potential for problems.

Greg Crawford, an oceanographer with Humboldt State University and an author of the paper, said that much depends on what type of wave projects are employed.

“This stuff needs to be approached holistically,” Crawford said.

While some wave energy projects are beginning to be used around the world, there is little information on how durable they are over the long term.

As Crawford pointed out, they are deployed in particularly difficult and treacherous environments.

The report recommends starting small, both in the laboratory and with small-scale projects to help begin to understand the effects they might have when deployed on an industrial scale.

The Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has won authorization from the federal government to study several areas off the Humboldt and Mendocino coasts, but the company recently ran into what appears to be an insurmountable obstacle from state utilities regulators on another project off Trinidad. In October, the California Public Utilities Commission denied the first wave power project it has ever considered, on the grounds that the Trinidad Head proposal isn’t viable, and the contract price to sell the power is too expensive.

A feud of sorts over final jurisdiction on wave energy projects persists between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the U.S. Mines and Minerals Service (MMS). And it’s not clear exactly what agency would make the determination of whether the costs of projects outweigh their benefits, said HSU economist Steve Hackett, another author of the study.

“I think it’s a very daunting situation for the public utilities or a power company to take on,” Hackett said.

While environmental issues will be hashed out in an environmental analysis, economic effects should also be considered, Hackett said. That includes the detriments to a struggling fishing fleet and the upside of jobs from energy projects, he said.

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MendoCoastCurrent, November 9, 2008

frankhartzellMendoCoastCurrent applauds Frank Hartzell’s reporting in the Fort Bragg Advocate-News and the Mendocino Beacon, and in winning reporting awards from the California Newspaper Publishers Association’s Better Newspapers Contest for work published in 2007. The awards were recently announced at CNPA’s annual awards luncheon in late October 2008.

Reporter Frank Hartzell’s on-going, in-depth and insightful coverage of the Mendocino coast’s wave energy development projects won First Place for Environmental & Agricultural Resource Reporting among weeklies with small circulations.

Mr. Hartzell is a key community forerunner in informing and deciphering both technological and governmental policies, developments and environmental impact(s) of the forward-moving ocean power technology developments on the Mendocino coast.  Many now consider Fort Bragg and the Mendocino coast “Ground Zero” in U.S. wave energy commercial development.

Mark Massara, head of the California Coastal Program for the Sierra Club, credited Mr. Hartzell’s coverage as the only in-depth information about wave energy being written.  And local people have generated the only viable criticism of the process, he said.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), a key player in federal energy policy, has extensively quoted Mr. Hartzell’s coverage, even cataloging and creating timelines from his authored newspaper articles.

Thank you, Frank Hartzell, for your superb work in researching and educating the Mendocino coast community in wave energy developments and in supporting us to act from knowledge in our role as environmental stewards.

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MATT NAUMAN, San Jose Mercury News, October 27, 2008

The California Public Utilities Commission rejected a Pacific Gas & Electric contract for wave energy, saying the utility was going to pay too much for a technology that’s still largely experimental.

Last December, PG&E said it would be the first utility in the nation to get energy from ocean waves after signing a power purchase agreement with Finavera Renewables, which planned to operate a “wave farm” about 21/2 miles off the coast of Eureka. The deal was for 2 megawatts of power starting in 2012.

But the California PUC this month nixed the deal, saying wave energy technology was “in a nascent stage” and that Finavera’s system was “not currently viable.” The commission noted that a prototype buoy deployed by Finavera off the Oregon coast in 2007 sank before its six week test period was concluded.

The CPUC, which oversees power deals and rate hikes from the state’s big utilities, also said the San Francisco utility was going to pay too high a price for the wave-energy contract. The financial terms of power deals are not released publicly.

“We respectfully disagree with the decision,” PG&E spokeswoman Jennifer Zerwer said. The utility will continue to pursue wave energy projects, she said, including through its Emerging Renewables Resource Program proposal that would fund two wave projects off the Mendocino County and Humboldt County coast that’s currently waiting PUC approval.

In a letter to the PUC, Brian Cherry, PG&E’s vice president of regulatory relations, said the rejection of the deal would have “a chilling effect on wave development in California.” The rejection will send wave companies to states other than California, he wrote.

Finavera Renewables, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, said the decision puts California “out of step” with the policies of the federal government, other states and cities. CEO Jason Bak said Finavera would try to form a private wave-energy consortium to diversify the risk and attract more funding for wave-energy technology. He also said the company would now focus on its wind projects in Canada and Ireland.

A report released Monday suggested that wave energy has great potential to be a source of renewable power. While only about 10 megawatts of ocean power have been installed worldwide to date, a report by researcher Greentech Media and the nonprofit Prometheus Institute found that could grow to 1 gigawatt (1,000 megawatts) of power by 2015. In California, 1 megawatt of power is enough to provide electricity for 750 homes.

More than $4 billion will be invested in ocean-wave research and the construction of wave farms over the next six years, the report says.

Daniel Englander, co-author of that report, doesn’t see the CPUC decision as a death blow for wave energy projects. “PG&E picked the wrong company,” he said. “Finavera isn’t a bad company, it’s just that their technology isn’t at a stage where it’s ready to deliver power commercially.”

Still, he expects several companies will have production-ready ocean power systems capable of delivering 2 megawatts or more within five years.

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MendoCoastCurrent, October 16, 2008

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) claimed that it has jurisdiction over hydroelectric projects located on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), pointing to laws that define its role.

FERC addressed the jurisdictional question, raised by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Mineral Management Service (MMS), in the context of a rehearing order on two preliminary permits issued to PG&E to study the feasibility of developing wave energy projects in the OCS off the California coast. The projects are the Humboldt Project off the coast of the Samoa Peninsula in Humboldt County near Eureka, and the Mendocino Project off the coast of Fort Bragg in Mendocino County.

Commissioner Philip Moeller said the development of viable hydrokinetic resources needs a streamlined process like FERC’s. “It is indisputable that renewable energy is a valuable resource and hydrokinetic projects could harness a vast resource of new hydropower,” he said. “Instead of legal battles, my preference, and this Commission’s, has been to reach out to federal agencies and states to work in a cooperative manner to the same goal: timely development of a new renewable power resource in a responsible manner after input from all affected stakeholders.”

MMS has asserted that FERC only has jurisdiction to issue licenses and preliminary permits for projects within state waters, which for most states is defined as extending three miles offshore. Projects beyond state waters are considered to be located in the OCS.

But FERC says the Federal Power Act (FPA) gives it two bases of authority to issue preliminary permits and licensees for hydroelectric projects located on the OCS. First, the law expressly grants FERC jurisdiction to license in “navigable waters” without limitation as well as in “streams or other bodies of water over which Congress has jurisdiction.” 

The second authority is for those projects located on “reservations” of the United States. FERC concludes that the OCS is land owned by the United States, qualifying it to be a “reservation” under the FPA. “The Supreme Court of the United States has consistently held that the United States owns the submerged lands off its shores, beginning from the low-water mark,” FERC said.

Finally, FERC addressed comments by MMS about the meaning of the Federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005) as it relates to the jurisdiction question for hydroelectric projects located on the OCS. MMS asserted that EPAct 2005 intended for MMS to be the lead federal regulatory authority over wave and ocean current energy projects in the OCS.

In this order, FERC notes that EPAct 2005 does not limit the scope of its authority over hydroelectric power or withdraw FERC jurisdiction over projects in the OCS. “To the contrary, Congress expressly preserved the Commission’s comprehensive hydroelectric licensing authority under the FPA by including two saving clauses….,” FERC said.

FERC Chairman Kelliher stressed today that FERC recognizes the role of Interior, which through the Minerals Management Service (MMS) manages lands on the OCS. There is no conflict with FERC’s role as the licensing agency, he said.

“We have proposed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with MMS that carefully delineates the roles of the two agencies in a manner that respects both our licensing, and Interior’s resource, roles,” Kelliher said. “We stand ready to enter into the MOU to clarify those roles.”

A preliminary permit gives the holder of a permit priority over the site for three years while the holder studies the feasibility of developing the site. It does not authorize construction of any kind. A license authorizes construction and operation of a hydroelectric facility.

FERC’s order also finds that although two local governments, the City of Fort Bragg and Mendocino County, asserted that they did not receive personal notification from FERC of the filing of the preliminary permit applications, only Mendocino County acted in a timely manner once it received actual notice of the application in order to preserve its right to intervene. As a result, Mendocino County’s request for late intervention is granted. However, the order finds that Mendocino has not provided grounds for the Commission to revoke the Mendocino Project permit or to reopen that proceeding. The order also denies motions for late intervention in both proceedings by FISH Committee.

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KATE GALBRAITH, The New York Times, September 23, 2008

For years, technological visionaries have painted a seductive vision of using ocean tides and waves to produce power. They foresee large installations off the coast and in tidal estuaries that could provide as much as 10% of the nation’s electricity.

But the technical difficulties of making such systems work are proving formidable. Last year, a wave-power machine sank off the Oregon coast. Blades have broken off experimental tidal turbines in New York’s turbulent East River. Problems with offshore moorings have slowed the deployment of snakelike generating machines in the ocean off Portugal.

Years of such problems have discouraged ocean-power visionaries, but have not stopped them. Lately, spurred by rising costs for electricity and for the coal and other fossil fuels used to produce it, they are making a new push to overcome the barriers blocking this type of renewable energy.

The Scottish company Pelamis Wave Power plans to turn on a small wave-energy farm — the world’s first — off the coast of Portugal by year’s end, after fixing the broken moorings. Finavera Renewables, a Canadian company that recently salvaged its sunken, $2.5 million Oregon wave-power machine, has signed an agreement with Pacific Gas & Electric to produce power off the California coast by 2012. And in the East River, just off Manhattan, two newly placed turbines with tougher blades and rotors are feeding electricity into a grocery store and parking garage on Roosevelt Island.

“It’s frustrating sometimes as an ocean energy company to say, yeah, your device sank,” said Jason Bak, chief executive of Finavera. “But that is technology development.”

Roughly 100 small companies around the world are working on converting the sea’s power to electricity. Many operate in Europe, where governments have pumped money into the industry. Companies and governments alike are betting that over time, costs will come down. Right now, however, little electricity is being generated from the ocean except at scattered test sites around the world.

The East River — despite its name, it is really a tidal strait with powerful currents — is the site of the most advanced test project in the United States.

Verdant Power, the company that operates it, was forced to spend several years and millions of dollars mired in a slow permit process, even before its turbine blades broke off in the currents. The company believes it is getting a handle on the problems. Verdant is trying to perfect its turbines and then install 30 of them in the East River, starting no later than spring 2010, and to develop other sites in Canada and on the West Coast.

Plenty of other start-ups also plan commercial ocean-power plants, at offshore sites such as Portugal, Oregon and Wales, but none have been built.

Ocean-power technology splits into two broad categories, tidal and wave power. Wave power, of the sort Finavera is pursuing, entails using the up and down motions of the waves to generate electricity. Tidal power — Verdant’s province — involves harnessing the action of the tides with underwater turbines, which twirl like wind machines.

(Decades-old tidal technologies in France and Canada use barrage systems that trap water at high tide; they are far larger and more obtrusive than the new, below-waterline technologies.)

A third type of power, called ocean thermal, aims to exploit temperature differences between the surface and deep ocean, mainly applicable in the tropics.

Ocean power has more potential than wind power because water is about 850 times denser than air, and therefore packs far more energy. The ocean’s waves, tides and currents are also more predictable than the wind.

The drawback is that seawater can batter and corrode machinery, and costly undersea cables may be needed to bring the power to shore. And the machines are expensive to build: Pelamis has had to raise the equivalent of $77 million.

Many solar start-ups, by contrast, need as little as $5 million to build a prototype, said Martin Lagod, co-founder of Firelake Capital Management, a Silicon Valley investment firm. Mr. Lagod looked at investing in ocean power a few years ago and decided against it because of the long time horizons and large capital requirements.

General Electric, which builds wind turbines, solar panels and other equipment for virtually every other type of energy, has stayed clear of ocean energy. “At this time, these sources do not appear to be competitive with more scalable alternatives like wind and solar,” said Daniel Nelson, a G.E. spokesman, in an e-mail message. (An arm of G.E. has made a small investment in Pelamis.)

Worldwide, venture capital going to ocean-power companies has risen from $8 million in 2005 to $82 million last year, according to the Cleantech Group, a research firm. However, that is a tiny fraction of the money pouring into solar energy and biofuels.

This month the Energy Department doled out its first major Congressionally-funded grants since 1992 to ocean-power companies, including Verdant and Lockheed Martin, which is studying ocean thermal approaches.

Assuming that commercial ocean-power farms are eventually built, the power is likely to be costly, especially in the near term. A recent study commissioned by the San Francisco Public Utility Commission put the cost of harnessing the Golden Gate’s tides at 85 cents to $1.40 a kilowatt-hour, or roughly 10 times the cost of wind power. San Francisco plans to forge ahead regardless.

Other hurdles abound, including sticky environmental and aesthetic questions. In Oregon, crabbers worry that the wave farm proposed by Ocean Power Technologies, a New Jersey company, would interfere with their prime crabbing grounds.

“It’s right where every year we deploy 115,000 to 120,000 crab pots off the coast for an eight-month period to harvest crab,” said Nick Furman, executive director of the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission. The commission wants to support renewable energy, but “we’re kind of struggling with that,” Mr. Furman said

George Taylor, chief executive of Ocean Power Technologies, said he did not expect “there will be a problem with the crabs.”

In Washington State, where a utility is studying the possibility of installing tidal power at the Admiralty Inlet entrance to Puget Sound, scuba divers are worried, even as they recognize the need for clean power.

Said Mike Racine, president of the Washington Scuba Alliance: “We don’t want to be dodging turbine blades, right?”

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Excerpts from FRANK HARTZELL’s article in the Fort Bragg Advocate-News, September 18, 2008

PG&E “expects to be granted $1.2 million this week by the U.S. Department of Energy to study wave energy off Fort Bragg and Eureka” and is seeking “the new money earlier this summer to move its local wave energy study under a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) preliminary permit to the commercial stage. In order to complete that study and get test equipment into the water, the Department of Energy grant is needed, PG&E says.”

“The most recent news of the federal Department of Energy grant will be a study undertaken by the utility as part of a team that includes Humboldt State University and the University of Texas at Austin. PG&E hopes the money will eventually make the project commercially viable.”

“PG&E believes there is potential to generate renewable, emission free, environmentally benign, and cost effective energy from wave energy at selected sites in the PG&E service territory in Northern California, and that successful wave energy demonstration may enable significant commercial development resulting in important benefits for both the Northern California region and the country,” the grant application by the utility states.”

“Clearly, PG&E needs to do in-water testing for wave energy to be viable. FERC’s preliminary permit process no longer allows for that to happen. FERC anticipates issuing a license to PG&E for wave energy off Humboldt next spring. A license would allow in-water testing and even legal power generation.”

PG&E’s objective is “to conduct in-water testing and evaluation of commercial/near-commercial WEC [wave energy converter] technology representative of what would be expected to be used in a commercial-scale power plant. This will enable PG&E to make an informed evaluation of WEC technology as to whether, and to what extent, wave energy should be included in PG&E’s energy portfolio, while simultaneously facilitating the commercial development of this new industry,” the PG&E application states.

“PG&E is the primary proposing organization and its project team includes CH2MHill, EPRI, University of Texas at Austin, Humboldt State University and other contractors to be named later.”

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MendoCoastCurrent, September 9, 2008

Fort Bragg, California City Council has filed a lawsuit against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in the Washington D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Concerns escalated last August when FERC denied Fort Bragg’s second request for a rehearing on FERC’s national licensing policies for wave energy or hydrokinetic energy projects. The community stakeholders, Fort Bragg, Mendocino County, Lincoln County (Oregon) and Fishermen Interested in Safe Hydrokinetics (FISH), were also denied rehearing by FERC. Under the Federal Power Act, there are no administrative appeals left and the only recourse is a lawsuit.

Fort Bragg contests FERC’s energy development process for national licensing of wave energy projects, including the proposed Pacific Gas & Electric wave energy pilot project off the coast of Fort Bragg.

The contested policies were established in two informal documents issued by FERC in April 2008 entitled Staff Guidance on Hydrokinetic Pilot Procedures” and “Staff FAQs on Conditional Licenses.”

Fort Bragg contends that FERC established these policies without complying with a number of federal laws including the Coastal Zone Management Act, Clean Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.

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Excerpts from FRANK HARTZELL’s article at the Mendocino Beacon, September 4, 2008

PG&E decided last week not to be the national test case for the Minerals Management Service’s wave energy program.

Just two weeks earlier, the utility officially filed paperwork to pursue those same far offshore wave energy leases. None of the filings have yet been provided to this newspaper by PG&E, or presented to the public locally.

Why such a quick change of mind?

“In early August we said yes to enter into negotiations for the (MMS) Mendocino project,” said PG&E spokeswoman Jana Morris. “Within the following three weeks we hoped there would be change to the economic and commercial terms of the interim lease, which did not occur.

“At that point we made the decision to stop negotiations until the final rules are made available,” said Morris.

Minerals Management Service officials did not respond to questions about what they will do next, now that their test case is gone.

The Minerals Management Service (MMS) believes it must charge private companies and promote competition for leases of public resources — which the competing Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gives to the first company in line at no direct cost.

After no competing firms emerged by the May 19 deadline, the MMS abandoned the idea of competitive bidding and proposed charging $3 per acre annually to lease the areas.

“PG&E has concluded that the project costs, including the significant rental fees, of going forward under an interim lease are unacceptably high, particularly in light of the absence of any competitive advantage at the commercial leasing stage,” said Morris.

AND

Recent Offshore Development Timeline

  • April — MMS releases its interim alternative energy application process. The MMS picks one site for each kind of energy proposed to be generated on the Outer Continental Shelf, wave, current, tide and wind. PG&E’s twin projects in Fort Bragg and Eureka are the wave energy choice.
  • May — When no other developer applies for the 200 square miles of ocean that PG&E has claimed off Eureka and Fort Bragg, the MMS proposes a $3 per acre annual fee.
  • August 1 — MMS announces a new initiative to open more areas to offshore oil drilling. Email and regular mail public comments are being taken through Sept. 5 on what areas should be opened.
  • August 6 — PG&E officially applies for the new MMS leases at $3 per acre.
  • August 15 — MMS holds a seminar in San Francisco to explain the new alternative energy process. PG&E attends.
  • August 26 — Mendocino County moves ahead with suing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, over its wave energy process.
  • August 26 — PG&E reverses its position of August 6 and announces it won’t pursue the interim leases, instead waiting until MMS finishes its rulemaking process later in 2008 or early 2009.
  • August 29 — PG&E files a six-month progress report with FERC. The company claims a large amount of local outreach in the report, naming numerous public meetings it has held. The company has revealed little or no new information at any of those meetings. The status report also mentions the company collaborated with two universities in June on filing a request with the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • August 31 — California State Senate passes a joint resolution asking Congress to renew the federal waters Outer Continental Shelf offshore drilling moratorium. This resolution, AJR 51, authored by Assemblyman Pedro Nava, had been passed by the California State Assembly earlier this summer.
  • September and October — Congress must pass new annual moratorium for protections off the Mendocino Coast and much of the East and West Coasts to continue. Republicans nationally make creating new drilling wherever possible a key campaign issue. A rival GOP plan would open up only certain Eastern states and new areas in the Gulf of Mexico to drilling.

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GABE MELINE, Bohemia.com, September 3, 2008

While presidential candidates call for alternative forms of energy and “sustainable” is the word of the year, the idea of ocean-wave buoys along the Sonoma and Marin coast continues to attract attention as a potentially viable form of energy.

Though no firm proposal is in place, the wheels have been turning toward what some are already calling a “West Coast wave energy gold rush.” The county of Sonoma, in fact, has already submitted an application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to lease an area of the ocean off the Sonoma Coast to oversee wave-energy development.

Dan Howard, superintendent of the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, agrees that ocean waves, like the wind and the sun, are a natural energy source which until recently has gone widely untapped. Still, the rush may be a long way off. “I would call it an experimental technology,” he says. “It’s safe to say, I think, it’s years away from any kind of implementation.”

Earlier this year, the Cordell Bank Sanctuary held a panel discussion with representatives from the buoy energy industry, the marine fisheries and environmental groups. “You start running into issues related to migrations—the grey whales, of course, are the first that come to mind,” Howard says. “The fishing industry, certainly, you’d have to work something out with the local commerce if it affected vessel traffic in any way. There are lots of conversations that need to occur.”

The concept of the wave-energy buoy has been implemented most successfully in Portugal, where the Aguçadora Wave Park, with its snakelike buoys, built in 2005 near Póvoa de Varzim, has been widely hailed a commercial success. Last year in Oregon, a different prototype of buoy was tested off the coast, measuring 72 feet tall and weighing 35 tons. Using a fixed coil with a floating magnetic field, the device would generate voltage with the rising and falling of the waves as the coil moves up and down inside the magnetic field.

The idea has been gaining currency. On Sept. 23, the West Coast Governors’ Agreement—a collaborative group between the governors of California, Oregon and Washington united to preserve ocean health—will host a meeting in Portland, Ore., to discuss with the public the development of wave and tidal energy activities on the West Coast. PG&E has already eyed the Mendocino Coast as a location to study hydrokinetic projects.

With all eyes on renewable energy, and with engineers working on different types of buoys, could we be on the crest of new source of energy? “I think the vast majority of people in the United States would support development of alternative-energy sources, certainly,” Howard says. “How we go about doing that, and doing it in the most environmentally sensitive and safe way, is the trick.”

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MendoCoastCurent, August 12, 2008

Last Friday the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released its latest denial for a rehearing on the Mendocino Wave Energy project on the Northern California coast.

The denied Petitioners include Fishermen Interested in Safe Hydrokinetics (FISH) with Attorney Elizabeth Mitchell, Mendocino County, Fort Bragg, Lincoln County in Oregon and others representing concerned citizens, local city/county governments as well as local fishermen wishing to be party to wave energy development on the Mendocino coast.

In this power showdown, where federal energy policymakers are swiftly moving towards the deployment, testing and exploration of wave energy generating devices on the Mendocino coast, FERC has made it clear that they do not wish to have local and community involvement or participation, period.

And the implications of this denial are far reaching as it appears this Mendocino coast wave energy development project shall be ‘ground zero’ as the first U.S. wave energy project to explore wave energy policymaking, development, deployment and generation (the Makah Bay project is located off Native American lands in the state of Washington).

Before reading on, please take a look at FERC Denial Order: HERE The language of the Order is indecipherable to a layperson. One wonders what this order actually states.

From a more general view, the Petitioners’ have sought to become full-fledged participants in matters related to wave energy projects licensing and development on the Mendocino coast. The local groups, local governments and concerned citizenry of Fort Bragg are also calling for appropriate environmental studies/testing before deployment.

The Mendocino coast continues to inspire locals as well as visitors from around the world with its dramatic beauty, its richness in bounty, its rugged, wildness…and its awesome power. Mendocino locals wish to share this reverence and general knowledge, their oceanic and micro-climate experience…and contribute their knowledge toward a successful and environmentally-benign test of today’s nascent wave energy technology.

It is MendoCoastCurrent’s view, and possibly not a popular one, that appropriate and environmentally-benign wave energy technologies may be developed and successfully implemented. There are literally hundreds of different wave devices available today. Straight out the shoot, many are inappropriate for the Mendocino coast due to sea depth and upswell, some devices are simply pipedreams while others may be suitable — meaning, a device that may sustainably work within the harsh ocean environment, not diminish the sea flora/fauna, sea creatures or man and beneficial in scaling electrical energy output.

Yet in this FERC Denial it’s clear that FERC does not seek the necessary dialog and community ownership that will enable this project’s success.

Additionally, FERC is in the process of developing wave energy ‘conditioned licenses’ to streamline development and FERC has chosen to not incorporate rulemaking (allowing public input) in developing their licensing policies. An associate federal agency, the Mineral Management Service (MMS) that rules beyond the FERC three-mile limit to 200 miles out to sea (the outer continental shelf) is now in ‘rulemaking’ process for hydrokinetic projects. Thus, MMS is asking for comments to be submitted by September 8, 2008…see article here with MMS links to share your comments.

 

MendoCoastCurrent awaits local responses, legal analyses and federal energy policymakers’ next steps.

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MADDALENA JACKSON with MendoCoastCurrent edit, The Sacramento Bee, August 11, 2008

Oil companies, some politicians and commuters paying $4 for a gallon of gas might look at California’s coast and think of crude oil pooled below the sea floor.

California’s North Coast, however, holds promise of another energy bounty.

In less time than it would take to fire up new offshore oil drills, waters off our coast could host undulating buoys driven by waves, producing abundant electricity for a power-thirsty state.

The Electric Power Research Institute estimates enough wave power can be extracted from coastal waters to account for about 15% of California’s electricity production.

Offshore wave technology is promising, but it’s untried. They also raise concerns about potential damage to the coast’s prized vistas and fish industry.

One proposal that’s progressing is to draw electricity from waves off the Mendocino coast already has generated problems for developers, government agencies and coastal residents.

Moreover, the potential for waves depends on someone building transmission lines to connect offshore power to the state’s grid.

Northern California’s biggest utility company, Pacific Gas and Electric Co., may be that someone.

Out at sea, the ocean’s surface ripples rhythmically, and the up-and-down motion can be harnessed to produce electrical energy, via bobbing buoys, jointed snakes and undulating tubes.

PG&E plans to capture some of that potential. It has preliminary permits for two projects – one off Fort Bragg in Mendocino County and one off Eureka.

The Fort Bragg project, expected to yield 40 megawatts of electricity, would be “an undersea power plug,” said PG&E project manager Bill Toman. It “would provide about 20% of electricity consumption of Mendocino County.”

PG&E would build the expensive transmission lines. The utility would select three or four developers to test their power generators.

Results will lead to “a decision about whether we would build our own wave energy farm,” he said.

Mendocino coast residents are examining PG&E’s plans with cautious concern.

“Wave energy sounds like a good idea, as long as it doesn’t harm the environment,” said Bruce Lewis, a nature photographer and volunteer light-keeper at the Point Cabrillo Light Station. “Using the power of the waves seems like a better way of generating power than building oil platforms off the coast.”

Others are wary. “When you first hear about it, you think, ‘That’s a great idea!’ ” said Jim Martin, director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance.

He’s concerned wave power may interfere with fisheries. He wonders if electrical signatures from the devices also might disturb fish.

His biggest complaint right now, however, is that local fishermen and residents have had no say in the planning.

Martin is also associated with Fishermen Interested in Safe Hydrokinetics, or FISH. With local lawyer Elizabeth Mitchell, FISH is battling for a role in the planning.

A federal deadline has passed for gaining an official voice in the legal planning for the wave projects, alongside PG&E and federal energy regulators.

Mitchell has filed a request for a belated entree with the Federal Electric Regulatory Commission. She argues that an isolated community, with limited high-speed Internet service, and few residents who even know what FERC is, could not have met the deadline.

Mitchell said she’s concerned that permits have been granted without environmental analysis or even identified technology. “We are guinea pigs for a worldwide science experiment without any rational planning.”

PG&E’s permit comes from FERC. But there is a question over wave power jurisdiction. The federal Minerals Management Service has jurisdiction from three to 200 miles offshore, and by years end hopes to have rules in place for alternative energy leases, said spokesman John Romero.

FERC, however, oversees onshore hydropower applications and has claimed jurisdiction for wave technology up to 12 miles offshore, based on its reading of legal documents.

“It’s a problem for anyone in charge of proposing a project,” PG&E’s Toman said. “At some point, it will hold things up.”

A delay would be welcome, Martin said. “A huge reason people come up here is to look at the ocean, and to reconnect with nature.”

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DAVID R. BAKER, The San Francisco Chronicle, July 31, 2008

The U.S. Interior Department ratcheted up the pressure on Congress Wednesday to open more of the country’s coastline to offshore oil drilling, a move petroleum companies have sought for decades.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said his department will lay the groundwork for selling undersea oil-drilling leases on the outer continental shelf, including areas now protected by a congressional ban. Republicans are pushing hard to end the moratorium, which was imposed in 1982 and covers most of the East and West coasts.

The Interior Department has no authority to lift the ban. But if Congress votes to open the coasts to drilling, the department could hit the ground running, selling leases as early as 2011. Exploratory drilling would probably begin a few years after that.

“Americans continue to struggle with high gas prices, and it’s important that we do more to develop domestic sources of energy,” Kempthorne said.

As a first step, the Interior Department will solicit comments from oil companies, state governors, environmental groups and others as to which specific stretches of seafloor should be leased for drilling. The department will consider areas that are already open – such as the Gulf of Mexico – as well as those that aren’t.

The move pleased oil industry groups as well as politicians who want more offshore oil production.

“We’ve got to get off foreign oil. We’ve got to use our own domestic production,” said Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona (Riverside County), who introduced legislation this month to lift the moratorium. He said royalties from oil pumped off the California coast could be a boon to state government.

“I think it’s a better solution than raising taxes,” Calvert said. “Why don’t we take advantage of the resources we know we have and help address the structural deficit problem in California?”

But leading congressional Democrats remain adamantly opposed to lifting the ban. They note that most of the estimated oil reserves on the outer continental shelf – about 79% – lie in areas that are already open to drilling.

“This is nothing more than a political stunt to divert attention from the high gas prices that have resulted from having two oil men in the White House,” California Sen. Barbara Boxer said Wednesday.

Environmental groups also panned the Interior Department plan. Like the congressional Democrats, they want the nation to invest more heavily in alternative energy sources and start weaning itself off oil.

“There’s simply no way, with 2% of the world’s oil reserves, that you can solve our problems by drilling” on the outer continental shelf, said Jim Presswood, an energy issues advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Interior Department officials said Wednesday that they also want to increase the development of alternative energy sources offshore. For two years, the department has studied leasing portions of the outer continental shelf to companies that want to build offshore windmills or install buoys that generate electricity as they bob up and down on the waves.

PG&E has proposed two such wave energy projects off the coasts of Humboldt and Mendocino counties.

The Interior Department’s alternative energy effort will dovetail with the new push on offshore oil drilling, Kempthorne said.

“Alternative energy development and traditional energy development are not mutually exclusive,” he said.

Although the department will ask for comments from governors, that doesn’t mean the governors would be able to veto offshore drilling in federal waters near their states. States control the waters within 3 miles of shore, but can’t directly control development farther out.

Kempthorne and other Interior Department officials emphasized on Wednesday their desire to work with the governors. But they said Congress would have to determine how much authority to give the states should legislators lift the drilling moratorium.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger opposes offshore drilling. This week, the Republican governor touted an agreement with his counterparts in Oregon and Washington to work together to protect the coastal environment, an agreement that includes rejecting offshore oil drilling.

“The governor understands that people are frustrated with the soaring price of gas, but in California, we know offshore drilling is not the answer,” said Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Lisa Page.

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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.”

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Publishers Note: Koch Industries became the nation’s largest privately held company in November 2005, when it acquired the paper maker Georgia-Pacific for $13.2 billion. This article is of interest to MendoCoastCurrent readers as a very large, abandoned, George-Pacific Mill Site is situated on the waterfront of Fort Bragg, CA on the Mendocino coast.

ROBIN POGREBIN, The New York Times, July 10, 2008

In years to come, when the oil-and-gas billionaire David H. Koch attends a gala performance of New York City Ballet or City Opera at Lincoln Center, the building he enters in black tie will bear his name.

Mr. Koch, recently called the wealthiest resident of New York City, has agreed to contribute $100 million toward the renovation of the New York State Theater, which is home to the two companies. His gift will be the largest private capital donation in Lincoln Center’s history and a triumph in a period of growing economic uncertainty.

“They seem to like me there, and I like them, so I think we’ve got a deal,” Mr. Koch, 68, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday from Boston, where he was traveling. “Its obvious that this theater needs modernization.”

“I’ve been going to the New York State Theater for 40 years,” he said. “I can assure you, I would not make a gift of this magnitude unless I was absolutely convinced that the quality of the work was world class.”

Starting this fall the building will be known as the David H. Koch Theater. The change will become the second planned renaming of a New York institution for a major donor in just four months; in March the New York Public Library announced that it would name its main building after the Wall Street financier Stephen A. Schwarzman in return for a $100 million gift.

With an estimated net worth of $17 billion, Mr. Koch (pronounced coke) ranks 10th on Forbes’s list of the nation’s wealthiest and 37th on its list of the world’s wealthiest. Based on that estimate the $100 million gift amounts to half of 1% of his wealth.

Reynold Levy, president of Lincoln Center, described Mr. Koch’s donation as “a very important statement about the importance and the future of performing arts in this country.” He added, “This gift puts the performing arts in another league of fund-raising and helps to elevate our expectations and gives us all a tremendous vote of confidence.”

Susan L. Baker, chairwoman of New York City Opera, said there was no internal opposition to the name change. “Sometimes there are ideas that are so good and right that they just don’t have a lot of resistance,” she said. “We all realize the value of this terrific opportunity.”

A name change was approved by the New York State Legislature in April. The theater belonged to the state until 1965, when it was turned over to the city.

Constructed at a cost of $19.3 million, the State Theater opened on April 23, 1964, at Columbus Avenue at 63rd Street, on the south end of the Lincoln Center complex. It was the second performing-arts building to open after Philharmonic Hall, now Avery Fisher Hall.

Mr. Koch will donate the money over 10 years, with an initial $15 million payment this summer, a $10 million annual payment for eight years and a final $5 million installment.

Under the arrangement the theater could be renamed for a new donor after 50 years, with members of the Koch family retaining the right of first refusal. “A naming opportunity should be a defined length of time to allow the institution to regenerate itself with another round of major fund-raising,” Mr. Koch said.

His donation is the lead gift in a $200 million capital campaign to enhance and update the auditorium and audience amenities of the theater.

As the first such joint undertaking of the opera and ballet, the fund-raising effort reflects progress in what has been a historically strained relationship between the companies.

“We are all working together,” Ken Tabachnick, general manager of New York City Ballet, said. “We are intimately in discussion on every part of this renovation.”

Sharing the hall hasn’t been easy. The stage was designed at the behest of George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein, the dance company’s founders, to muffle dancers’ footfalls. The muted sound diminishes the opera’s acoustics, which music buffs agree need improvement despite several modifications over the decades, including amplification.

For years City Opera had tried unsuccessfully to find its own home, seeking at one point to secure the performing-arts space at the World Trade Center site and later the former American Red Cross site near Lincoln Center.

Finally, with the appointment of Gerold Mortier as the future general and artistic director in March 2007, City Opera decided to remain at the State Theater after he made a strong case for staying put.

The State Theater will go dark for renovations during City Opera’s 2008-9 season, but construction will be periodically suspended so the ballet can proceed with its lucrative holiday “Nutcracker” and then its winter and spring seasons.

The first phase of renovation, budgeted for $50 million and already under way with a completion goal of fall 2009, involves new seats and carpets, an enlarged orchestra pit with a mechanical lift, a new stage lighting system and new audiovisual and media equipment. The original Philip Johnson design for the building will be maintained.

The first phase is being financed through a mix of private and public sources. The remaining $150 million will go toward a hoped-for second phase that could include upgrading the lobby, dressing rooms and other spaces, and would bolster support for the endowment.

The city is expected to contribute to the project. Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts Inc. is exploring how much of the money raised it will match. For other constituent groups like the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Lincoln Center Theater, Lincoln Center has matched 20% of the first $25 million raised and 15% of everything over that amount.

Mr. Koch is an executive vice president and a board member of Koch Industries, based in Wichita, Kan., and owns a diverse group of companies with more than $100 billion in revenues and 80,000 employees in nearly 60 countries. The companies’ brands include Stainmaster carpet, Lycra spandex, Quilted Northern tissue and Dixie cups and tabletop products.

Koch Industries, founded in 1927 by Mr. Koch’s father, Fred, with a fleet of oil-delivery trucks, became the nation’s largest privately held company in November 2005, when it acquired the paper maker Georgia-Pacific for $13.2 billion.

Born in Wichita, Mr. Koch earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering at MIT, to which he donated $100 million for cancer research in October.

Other charitable donations have included $20 million to the American Museum of Natural History in 2006 for the David H. Koch Dinosaur Wing. That same year he promised $20 million to John Hopkins University’s medical campus in Baltimore, a gift that resulted in the new David H. Koch Cancer Research Building.

Mr. Koch also serves as the board chairman and chief executive of the Koch Chemical Technology Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries, and on more than 20 nonprofit boards, including those of American Ballet Theatre, the American Museum of Natural History and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Mr. Koch’s home in Aspen, Colo., famous for its New Year’s Eve parties in his bachelor days, boasts trophies from big-game hunts with his father in Botswana and Mozambique. A pair of 130-pound Ugandan elephant tusks frames the dining room. He and his wife, Julia, have three children.

Mr. Koch, a major contributor to the Republican Party and supporter of conservative causes, was the vice presidential candidate on the Libertarian ticket in 1980. In 2003 he helped establish the nonprofit Americans for Prosperity Foundation, which supports free-market policies and promotes government spending limits. It split off from an earlier Koch-backed enterprise, now called FreedomWorks, which promotes similar goals.

In recent years Mr. and Mrs. Koch have become fixtures on the New York social circuit. They were honored at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual corporate benefit, at the Food Allergy Ball in 2005 and at the American Museum of Natural History in 2006.

His taste in real estate made news in 2006 when, seeking more space for his family, Mr. Koch sold his apartment at 1040 Fifth Avenue, once owned by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and moved to 740 Park Avenue, home to business titans like Ronald S. Lauder and Mr. Schwarzman.

Mr. Koch said that he considered Mr. Schwarzman’s gift to the library an inspiration. “I admire people like that immensely — who have great wealth but are generous in terms of supporting worthy causes,” he said.

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MendoCoastCurrent, July 7, 2008, 7 am

Date/Time Started: June 20, 2008, 6 pm

Administrative Unit: CAL FIRE Mendocino Unit

County: Mendocino County

Location: Throughout Mendocino County

Acres Burned: 46,800

Containment: 45% contained

Structures Threatened: 335 residences

Structures Destroyed: 2 residences

Injuries: 27 minor injuries

Evacuation “Warnings” remain in effect for:

  • Community of Rockport
  • Red Mountain Road – From the intersection of Red Mountain Road and Bell Springs Road to 13600 Red Mountain Road.
  • Bell Springs Road – From Hwy 101 to the intersection of Red Mountain Road and Bell Springs Road.
  • The Community of Cummings
  • Town of Leggett
  • De Haven Creek and Howard Creek drainage, North of Westport.

Evacuation Centers: Placed on Standby

Cause: Lightning

Cooperating Agencies: CAL FIRE, Marin County, CDCR, CHP, CCC, Mendocino County Sherif, all local government FPD in Mendocino County, State OES, BLM, BIA, NWS, numerous county fire departments, National Guard, private timber companies and consulting foresters/representatives.

Total Fire Personnel: 1,721 (1,061 CAL FIRE)

Engines: 150

Fire crews: 40

Helicopters 15

Dozers: 40

Water tenders: 63

Costs to date: $22.3 million

Conditions: The Mendocino Lightning Complex currently consists of 127 fires burning in Mendocino County. There are currently 46 active fires.

Remaining fires continue to slowly increase in size. Firefighting resources continue to arrive daily and military resources are expected to arrive in the next few days.

GIS (Geographic Information System) mapping operations are being conducted throughout Mendocino County. Residents may see low flying rotary aircraft for the purposes of mapping fire perimeters. Fixed wing and rotary aircraft continue to operate on the fires.

A warming trend is expected over the next few days which may increase fire behavior.

The Governor has declared Mendocino County a State of Emergency due to redwood timber loss and significant threat to life, residential, commercial and resource loss.

Road Closures: None at this time.

CAL FIRE Incident Command Team #4 is assigned to this incident.

Additional Notes:

The Mendocino Lightning Complex has burned approximately 41,215 acres and is 45% contained. Progress is being made on the various fires throughout the County; there are currently 46 active fires and 81 contained fires. Remaining fires continue to slowly increase in size. Continued threats remain a possibility to communities and critical infrastructure.

Firefighting resources continue to arrive daily and military resources are expected to arrive in the next few days.

Weather conditions are currently favorable, however a warming trend is expected which can increase fire behavior.

Additional Evacuation “Warnings” and/ or “Orders” may be issued.

Planned firing operations have been successful and may occur in other areas of the County as necessary. Residents are reminded that they may see increased fire and smoke in the areas of planned firing operations.

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MendoCoastCurrent, July 4, 2008

Last Updated: July 4, 2008, 7:30 am

Date/Time Started: June 20, 2008, 6 pm

County: Mendocino County

Location: Throughout Mendocino County

Acres Burned: 39,500

Injuries to Date: 15

Containment: 40% contained

Structures Threatened: 680 residences, 1 commercial

Structures Destroyed: 2 residences

Evacuation “Warnings” remain in effect:

  • Community of Rockport
  • Montgomery Woods/ Orr Springs Road to Running Springs Road
  • Red Mountain Road – From the intersection of Red Mountain Road and Bell Springs Road to 13600 Red Mountain Road.
  • Bell Springs Road – From Hwy 101 to the intersection of Red Mountain Road and Bell Springs Road.
  • The Community of Cummings
  • Town of Leggett
  • De Haven Creek and Howard Creek drainage, North of Westport

Evacuation Centers: Placed on Standby

Cause: Lightning

Cooperating Agencies: CAL FIRE, Marin County, CDCR, CHP, CCC, Mendocino County Sherif, all local government FPD in Mendocino County, and State OES, BLM, BIA, NWS, private timber companies and consulting foresters/representatives.

Total Fire Personnel: 1,687 (1,002 CAL FIRE)

Fire crews: 33

Engines: 140

Helicopters: 17

Dozers: 50

Water tenders: 60

Overhead: 273

Total Personnel: 1,687

Fixed Wing Aircraft: 3

Costs to date: $14.55 million

Conditions: The Mendocino Lightning Complex currently consists of 123 fires burning in Mendocino County. There are currently 40 active fires.

Remaining fires continue to slowly increase in size. Continued threats remain a possibility to communities and critical infrastructure. Firefighting resources continue to arrive daily and military resources are expected to arrive in the next few days.

Weather conditions are currently favorable, however a warming trend is expected which can increase fire behavior.

GIS (Geographic Information System) mapping operations are being conducted throughout Mendocino County. Residents may see low flying rotary aircraft for the purposes of mapping fire perimeters. Fixed wing and rotary aircraft continue to operate on the fires.

The Governor has declared Mendocino County a State of Emergency due to redwood timber loss and significant threat to life, residential, commercial and resource loss.

Road Closures: None.

CAL FIRE Incident Command Team #4 is assigned to this incident.

Additional Notes: Planned firing operations have been successful and may occur in other areas of the county as necessary. For this reason, residents are reminded that they may see increased fire and smoke.

Anderson Valley Volunteer Firefighter, Bob Roland, was transported to Ukiah ValleyMedical Center on July 2, 2008, after suffering respiratory distress while working on the Oso fire. He passed away during the early morning hours of July 3, 2008. Air

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MendoCoastCurrent, CAL FIRE, morning of June 30, 2008

Mendocino Lightning Complex Incident Information:

Last Updated: June 30, 2008, 7:30 am

Date/Time Started: June 20, 2008, 6:00 pm

Administrative Unit: CAL FIRE Mendocino Unit

County: Mendocino County

Location: Throughout Mendocino County

Acres Burned: 37,200

Containment: 38% contained

Structures Threatened: 900 residences, 1 commercial

Structures Destroyed: 2 residences

Evacuation Warnings are in place for 10 different communities around Mendocino County.

Evacuation “Warnings” have been issued in:

  • Greenfield Subdivision: From Fred MacMurray Lane to Main Ranch Road. From Main Ranch Road to Orr Springs Road to the Singley Ranch (12000 Orr Springs Road) –Downgraded from “Order” at 12:00PM, June 28, 2008.
  • Community of Rockport
  • Montgomery Woods/ Orr Springs Road to Running Springs Road
  • Mountain View/ Mile Post 8 Area
  • Red Mountain Road – From the intersection of Red Mountain Road and Bell Springs Road to 13600 Red Mountain Road.
  • Bell Springs Road – From Hwy 101 to the intersection of Red Mountain Road and Bell Springs Road.
  • The Community of Cummings
  • Town of Leggett
  • De Haven Creek and Howard Creek drainage, North of Westport

Evacuations Lifted:

  • Chicken Ridge Webber Subdivision
  • Navarro/ Flynn Creek
  • Cherry Creek/ Intersection of Hwy 101 and Hwy 162

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Publisher’s Note: This May 21, 2008 FERC ruling rejects requests of FISH, Fort Bragg, Mendocino County and local stakeholders’ to rehear their right to participate in this wave energy development project. It is noted since onset of the Mendocino wave energy agenda, FERC and PG&E continue to swiftly move toward their goals while intentionally blocking all local, public participation. As wave energy development projects on the U.S. coasts progress, Americans are discovering that FERC’s convoluted wave energy licensing process is ill-defined, biased and discriminates against public participation.

123 FERC ¶ 61,194

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION

NOTICE REJECTING REQUEST FOR REHEARING

(May 21, 2008)

On November 30, 2007, the Commission issued a Policy Statement on Conditioned Licenses for Hydrokinetic Projects (Policy Statement) in Docket No. PL08-1-000.1 In the Policy Statement, the Commission set forth a new policy, applicable only to certain hydrokinetic projects, where the Commission will, in appropriate cases, and after the Commission completes its own licensing process, issue conditioned licenses pending action by other entities under federal law. On April 14, 2008, to address questions raised in response to the Policy Statement, the Commission staff issued prepared responses to the list of frequently asked questions (FAQs on Conditioned Licenses) under Docket No. PL08-1-000. Staff also issued Guidance on Hydrokinetic Pilot Projects (the Guidance), on April 14, 2008, in Docket AD07-14-000, in an effort to support the advancement and orderly development of hydrokinetic technologies.

On May 12, 13, and 14, 2008, Elizabeth R. Mitchell and Fisherman Interested in Safe Hydrokinetics (FISH Committee), the City of Fort Bragg, and the Concerned Citizens of Fort Bragg, respectively, filed requests for rehearing of the FAQs on Conditioned Licenses and the Guidance. On May 13 and 15, 2008, Lincoln County, Oregon and Mendocino County, California, respectively, filed requests for rehearing joining Ms. Mitchell and FISH Committee. All parties argue that: the Commission should have issued the Guidance only after initiating a public notice and comment rulemaking pursuant to section 553 of the Administrative Procedures Act;2 the Commission did not comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by failing to prepare a programmatic Environmental Impact Statement on the Guidance; and the Commission failed to comply with other laws applicable to the Commission’s licensing process.

As has been previously explained, an order is final, and thus subject to rehearing, only when it imposes an obligation, denies a right, or fixes some legal relationship as the consummation of the administrative process.3 The Guidance and the FAQs on Conditioned Licenses represent only informal advice from Commission staff and do not apply to the specific facts of any particular case, nor do they purport to resolve any specific controversy.4 Indeed, they are not orders of any kind. Therefore, no aggrievement exists and rehearing does not lie.5 Accordingly, the requests for rehearing of the Commission’s Guidance and the FAQs on Conditioned Licenses are rejected.

This notice constitutes final agency action. Requests for rehearing by the Commission of this rejection must be filed within 30 days of the date of issuance of this notice, pursuant to 18 C.F.R. § 385.713 (2007).

Kimberly D. Bose,

Secretary.

1 The Policy Statement was published in the Federal Register on December 7, 2007 (72 Fed. Reg. 68,887).

2 5 U.S.C. § 553 (2000) (prescribing notice and comment procedures for informal rulemaking).

3 See City of Fremont v. FERC, 336 F.3d 910, 913-14 (9th Cir. 2003); Papago Tribal Utility Authority v. FERC, 628 F.2d 235, 239 (D.C. Cir. 1980).

4 Parties are free to raise concerns in a specific proceeding when the policy is applied, and the Commission will consider their concerns with respect to the particular facts of the proceeding.

5 Project Decommissioning at Relicensing and Use of Reserved Authority in Hydropower Licenses to Ameliorate Cumulative Impacts, 70 FERC ¶ 61,151 at 61,450 (1995).

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Minerals Management Service, April 17, 2008

Issues Notice to Determine Competitive Interest in Nominated Areas

WASHINGTON — The Department of the Interior’s Minerals Management Service today designated five areas on the Outer Continental Shelf as priority areas for alternative energy research in federal waters.

The five areas are offshore New Jersey, Delaware, Georgia, Florida and California. The agency is proposing limited, temporary leases in these areas for data collection and technology testing related to wind, wave and ocean current energy development. There will be no commercial energy production activity associated with the proposed leases.
“This is a major step forward in expanding our nation’s energy portfolio,” said MMS Director Randall Luthi during a speech today at the Global Marine Renewable Energy conference in New York. “The information gained from research in these areas will greatly increase our understanding of the vast renewable energy potential just off our coast,” he said.

The agency received over forty nominations for alternative energy research projects in response to a November 2007 Federal Register notice. Of those, 16 could potentially go forward within the five priority areas. Ten of those proposed projects are related to wind energy and would be located in the areas offshore New Jersey, Delaware and Georgia. Four proposals offshore Florida would be related to ocean current energy, and two off Northern California would be related to wave energy. The remaining nominations are still being considered by MMS and decisions will be based on the proposed projects’ viability.

Prior to leases actually being issued or consideration of specific project proposals, the agency must first determine if competitive interest exists for research in the five areas. MMS must also evaluate other information related to those areas such as environmental factors and current commercial activities such as fishing and shipping.

The agency issued a Federal Register notice to be published Friday, April 18 that provides details about the five areas along with instructions for the public to provide comments. Individuals or organizations with competitive interest will have 30 days to provide comments, and the agency will accept public comments on the proposed lease areas for 60 days. The Federal Register notice will be published tomorrow.

The November notice also established interim guidelines for alternative energy research and testing on the OCS. MMS is preparing final regulations for the OCS Alternative Energy and Alternate Use program in accordance with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and hopes to publish those regulations by the end of the year.

“We are excited to be moving forward and hope to work with interested and affected parties to advance our knowledge of important offshore energy resources,” stated Director Luthi.

Comments may be submitted by either of the following methods:

1. Federal eRulemaking Portal: Under the tab “More Search Options,” click Advanced Docket Search, then select “Minerals Management Service” from the agency drop-down menu, then click “submit.” In the Docket ID column, select MMS-2008-OMM-0020 to submit public comments and to view supporting and related materials available for this rulemaking.

2. Mailing your comments to the following address:

Minerals Management Service
Offshore Minerals Management
Alternative Energy and Alternate Use Team
381 Elden Street
Herndon, Virginia 20170-4817

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorized MMS to establish the OCS Alternative Energy and Alternate Use (AEAU) Program. Under this authority, MMS will regulate alternative energy projects and projects that involve the alternate use of existing oil and gas platforms on the OCS. Alternative energy includes, but is not limited to wind, wave, solar, underwater current and generation of hydrogen. Alternate uses of existing facilities may include aquaculture, research, education, recreation, or support for offshore operations and facilities.

Contact: Gary Strasburg, 202-208-3985

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Publisher’s Note: On May 21, 2008 FERC rejected the Requests for Rehearing from Fort Bragg, Mendocino County & FISH. The article below was written before that decision was handed down.

MendoCoastCurrent, May 6, 2008

On May 5, 2008, Mendocino County filed their response to PG&E’s comments related to Mendocino County’s Request for Rehearing on the Wave Energy project off the Mendocino coast. This is the latest filing at FERC in response to PG&E’s bid to explore wave energy on the Mendocino coast near Fort Bragg, California.

Mendocino County’s position is that PG&E brought no new information in their comment about Mendocino’s Request for Rehearing, although the issues around the initial notification on the wave energy preliminary permit are highlighted. Mendocino makes the case that PG&E had no statutory requirement or obligation to notify as the Federal Powers Act places the written notice obligation “squarely with the Commission.”

Originally, PG&E’s commented that there was an ‘extreme delay’ in Mendocino’s seeking the rehearing and Mendocino claims their Motion to Intervene “was filed as soon as possible after the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors was presented with the details of the WaveConnect permit application at its September 19, 2007 meeting.”

So due to the Commission’s failure to meet their own standards with regard to written notice and no basis for PG&E’s position of ‘extreme delay’ in requesting Intervener status, the “only reasonable resolution at this time is rescission” of the preliminary permit.

Mendocino addresses PG&E’s vagueness of the wave energy project description (proposed project locations, number of wave energy converters) in the preliminary permit application and adds that “the local community was denied both the opportunity to investigate the feasibility of a competing applications and a voice regarding the terms and execution of the permit itself.”

Additionally, Mendocino has requested their own requirements for any wave energy project off the Mendocino coast, essentially defining its own process to include more checks and balances as well as transparency of plans and findings to local governments and the public:

  • Within one year of permit issue, PG&E shall submit a plan to FERC and Mendocino that details type, number and location of devices for study within the next five years;
  • PG&E shall provide local government with access to all consultant reports, findings and communications related to environmental impact and other impacts resulting from construction, operation and removal of the proposed project;
  • PG&E shall promptly notify Mendocino if it sets up any obstruction, measuring devices, observable towers or other equipment in permit area;
  • PG&E shall notify Mendocino if it decides to surrender the permit;
  • After consultation with Mendocino, PG&E shall remove any and all equipment constructed or installed within the permit area if it decides to surrender their permit;
  • Within one year of permit issue, PG&E shall submit a plan to FERC and Mendocino detailing removable of all equipment at the end of permit period;
  • PG&E shall give Mendocino all evaluation and monitoring from the proposed research projects and provide regular updates of findings, also making this available to the public;
  • Upon submitting Notice of Intent or Pre-Application Document to [license] the project, PG&E shall provide Mendocino a full description of all alternative project proposals under consideration by PG&E as well as related studies and reasons for accepting or rejecting.

Mendocino states “had the County had an opportunity to intervene in the preliminary permit proceedings, the County would have not only had an opportunity to determine the feasibility of a competing project but the County would have also raised its concerns about the vagueness of the project description and to propose additional permit conditions to clarify the project.”

Mendocino adds its wish to have had ample time to intervene and consider partnering with adjacent counties or private entities regarding a competing application as well as ample time to propose additional permit conditions to meaningfully participate.

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From Green Wombat, May 1, 2008

“Years ago we came to the conclusion that global warming was a problem, it was an urgent problem and the need for action is now. The problem appears to be worse and more imminent today, and the need to take action sooner and take more significant action is greater than ever before” – PG&E Chairman and CEO Peter Darbee

The head of one of the nation’s largest utilities seemed to be channeling Al Gore when he met with a half-dozen environmental business writers in the PG&E boardroom in downtown San Francisco. While a lot of top executives talk green these days, for Darbee green has become the business model, one that represents the future of the utility industry in a carbon-constrained age.

As Katherine Ellison wrote in a feature story on PG&E that appeared in the final issue of Business 2.0 magazine last September, California’s large utilities — including Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric — are uniquely positioned to make the transition to renewable energy and profit from green power.

First of all, they have no choice. State regulators have mandated that California’s investor-owned utilities obtain 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2010 with a 33 percent target by 2020. Regulators have also prohibited the utilities from signing long-term contracts for dirty power – i.e. with the out-of-state coal-fired plants that currently supply 20 percent of California’s electricity. Second, PG&E and other California utilities profit when they sells less energy and thus emit fewer greenhouse gases. That’s because California regulators “decouple” utility profits from sales, setting their rate of return based on things like how well they encourage energy efficiency or promote green power.

Still, few utility CEOs have made green a corporate crusade like Darbee has since taking the top job in 2005. And the idea of a staid regulated monopoly embracing technological change and collaborating with the likes of Google and electric car company Tesla Motors on green tech initiatives still seems strange, if not slightly suspicious, to some Northern Californians, especially in left-leaning San Francisco where PG&E-bashing is local sport.

In a wide-ranging conversation, Darbee, 54, sketched a future where being a successful utility is less about building big centralized power plants that sit idle until demand spikes and more about data management – tapping diverse sources of energy — from solar, wind and waves to electric cars — and balancing supply and demand through a smart grid that monitors everything from your home appliances to where you plugged in your car. “I love change, I love innovation,” says Darbee, who came to PG&E after a career in telecommunications and investment banking.

Renewable Energy

“On renewable energy what we’ve seen is the market is thin,” says Darbee. “Demand just from ourselves is greater than supply in terms of reliable, well-funded companies that can provide the service.”

PG&E so far has signed power purchase agreements with three solar startups — Ausra, BrightSource Energy and Solel — for up to 1.6 gigawatts of electricity to be produced by massive solar power plants. Each company is deploying a different solar thermal technology and uncertainty over whether the billion-dollar solar power stations will ultimately be built has prompted PG&E to consider jumping into the Big Solar game itself.

“We’re looking hard at the question of whether we can get into the business ourselves in order to do solar and other forms of renewables on a larger scale,” Darbee says. “Let’s take some of the work that’s been done around solar thermal and see if we can partner with one of the vendors and own larger solar installations on a farm rather than on a rooftop.”

“I like the idea of bringing the balance sheet of a utility, $35 billion in assets, to bear on this problem,” he adds.

It’s an approach taken by the renewable energy arm of Florida-based utility FPL, which has applied to build a 250-megawatt solar power plant on the edge of the Mojave Desert in California.

For now, PG&E is placing its biggest green bets on solar and wind. The utility has also signed a 2-megawatt deal with Finavera Renewables for a pilot wave energy project off the Northern California coast. Given the power unleashed by the ocean 24/7, wave energy holds great promise, Darbee noted, but the technology is in its infancy. “How does this technology hold up against the tremendous power of the of the Pacific Ocean?”

Electric Cars

Darbee is an auto enthusiast and is especially enthusiastic about electric vehicles and their potential to change the business models of both the utility and car industries. (At Fortune’s recent Brainstorm Green conference, Darbee took Think Global’s all-electric Think City Coupe for a spin and participated in panels on solar energy and the electric car.)

California utilities look at electric cars and plug-in hybrids as mobile generators whose batteries can be tapped to supply electricity during peak demand to avoid firing up expensive and carbon-spewing power plants. If thousands of electric cars are charged at night they also offer a possible solution to the conundrum of wind power in California, where the breeze blows most strongly in the late evenings when electricity demand falls, leaving electrons twisting in the wind as it were.

“If these cars are plugged in we would be able to shift the load from wind at night to using wind energy during the day through batteries in the car,” Darbee says.

The car owner, in other words, uses wind power to “fill up” at night and then plugs back into the grid during the day at work so PG&E can tap the battery when temperatures rise and everyone cranks up their air conditioners.

Darbee envisions an electricity auction market emerging when demand spikes. “You might plug your car in and say, ‘I’m available and I’m watching the market and you bid me on the spot-market and I’ll punch in I’m ready to sell at 17 cents a kilowatt-hour,” he says. “PG&E would take all the information into its computers and then as temperatures come up there would be a type of Dutch auction and we start to draw upon the power that is most economical.”

That presents a tremendous data management challenge, of course, as every car would need a unique ID so it can be tracked and the driver appropriately charged or credited wherever the vehicle is plugged in. Which is one reason PG&E is working with Google on vehicle-to-grid technology.

“One of the beneficiaries of really having substantial numbers of plug-in hybrid cars is that the cost for electric utility users could go down,” says Darbee. “We have a lot of plants out there standing by for much of the year, sort of like the Maytag repairman, waiting to be called on for those super peak days. And so it’s a large investment of fixed capital not being utilized.” In other words, more electric and plug-in cars on the road mean fewer fossil-fuel peaking power plants would need to be built. (And to answer a question that always comes up, studies show that California currently has electric generating capacity to charge millions of electric cars.)

Nuclear Power

Nuclear power is one of the hotter hot-button issues in the global warming debate. Left for dead following the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl disasters, the nuclear power industry got a new lease on life as proponents pushed its ability to produce huge amounts of carbon-free electricity.

“The most pressing problem that we have in the United States and across the globe is global warming and I think for the United States as a whole, nuclear needs to be on the table to be evaluated,” says Darbee.

That’s unlikely to happen, however in California. The state in the late 1970s banned new nuclear power plant construction until a solution to the disposal of radioactive waste is found. PG&E operates the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, a project that was mired in controversy for years in the ’70s as the anti-nuke movement protested its location near several earthquake faults.

“It’s a treasure for the state of California – It’s producing electricity at about 4 cents a kilowatt hour,” Darbee says of Diablo Canyon. “I have concerns about the lack of consensus in California around nuclear and therefore even if the California Energy Commission said, `Okay, we feel nuclear should play a role,’ I’m not sure we ought to move ahead. I’d rather push on energy efficiency and renewables in California.”

The Utility Industry

No surprise that Darbee’s peers among coal-dependent utilities haven’t quite embraced the green way. “I spent Saturday in Chicago meeting with utility executives from around the country and we’re trying to see if we can come to consensus on this very issue,” he says diplomatically. “There’s a genuine concern on the part of the industry about this issue but there are undoubtedly different views about how to proceed and what time frames to proceed on.”

For Darbee one of the keys to reducing utility carbon emissions is not so much green technology as green policy that replicates the California approach of decoupling utility profits from sales. “If you’re a utility CEO you’ve got to deliver earnings per share and you’ve got to grow them,” he says. “But if selling less energy is contradictory to that you’re not going to get a lot of performance on energy efficiency out of utilities.”

“This is a war,” Darbee adds, “In fact, some people describe [global warming] as the greatest challenge mankind has ever faced — therefore what we ought to do is look at what are the most cost-effective solutions.”

Thanks to Green Wombat for this post!

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April 29, 2008 – CALIFORNIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION’S DRAFT INTERIM OPINION AUTHORIZING EMERGING RENEWABLE RESOURCE PROGRAMS

Excerpts of CPUC Decisions RE PG&E Wave Energy Conversion Project Funding

Summary — Today’s decision authorizes Emerging Renewable Resource Programs (ERRP) for Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) (Joint Applicants). The adopted ERRP allows PG&E and SDG&E to expend up to $30 million and $15 million, respectively, on external costs for a period of two years. ERRP expenses will be recorded in each utility’s Energy Resource Recovery Account (ERRA).

The adopted ERRP includes project approval and oversight through the Commission’s Energy Division (ED) assisted by consultants using our adopted Technical Review Process (TRP). In addition, an independent evaluator (IE) will review ERRP project solicitations.

Although this decision authorizes Joint Applicants’ ERRP funding request, it provides that ratepayers will only fund up to 80% of the estimated costs for an ERRP project. Thus, ratepayers do not bear all of the risk of ERRP projects but rather share these risks with those providing the 20% in matching funds. The decision does not adopt intellectual property (IP) policies for IP produced from ERRP projects. Instead, IP will be addressed on a project-by-project basis until it is addressed through the workshop process. PG&E’s request for $2 million for the University of California Merced Solar Center (Solar Center) and $3.2 million for SDG&E’s request for a Wastewater Biomethane Demonstration (WBD) project are authorized. However, only $2 million of PG&E’s requested $6 million for its wave energy project is authorized at this time pending further review by the TRP consultants and approval by ED.

Because ERRP is a new utility program addressing the development of new renewable energy technologies, we will closely monitor and evaluate the program results during the next two years, and then decide whether the program should be continued, modified, or cancelled. This proceeding is closed.

RPS Background — The California Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) Program was established by Senate Bill (SB) 10782 and codified by California Public Utilities Code Section 399.11, et seq. The statute required that a retail seller of electricity such as PG&E purchase a certain percentage of electricity generated by Eligible Renewable Energy Resources (ERR). Originally, each utility was required to increase its total procurement of ERRs by at least 1% of annual retail sales per year until 20% is reached, subject to the Commission’s rules on flexible compliance, no later than 2017.

The State’s Energy Action Plan I (EAP I) called for acceleration of this RPS goal to reach 20 percent by 2010. This was reiterated again in the Order 2 Chapter 516, statutes of 2002, effective January 1, 2003 (SB 1078). The Energy Action Plan I was jointly adopted by the Commission, the California Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission (CEC) and the California Power Authority. The Commission adopted the EAP I on May 8, 2003. Instituting Rulemaking (R.04-04-026) issued on April 28, 2004, which encouraged the utilities to procure cost-effective renewable generation in excess of their RPS annual procurement targets (APT), in order to make progress towards the goal expressed in the EAP. On September 26, 2006, Governor Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill (SB) 107, which accelerates the State’s RPS targets to 20% by 2010, subject to the Commission’s rules on flexible compliance. During the past four years, California utilities including PG&E and SDG&E have sought to increase the amount of eligible renewable energy procurement to meet RPS targets.

In addition to the 2010 mandate, in 2005 the EAP II set a more ambitious goal to reach 33% renewable energy by 2020. In 2005, the Governor called for an acceleration of the RPS to 33 percent by 2020. While the state is not mandated by legislation to reach this more ambitious goal, the Commission is working with the investor-owned utilities (IOUs) to evaluate to what extent this goal can be achieved.

Regarding PG&E’s Wave Energy Conversions Projects — PG&E proposes to document the feasibility of a facility that converts wave energy into electricity by using wave energy conversion (WEC) devices in the open ocean adjacent to PG&E’s service territory. PG&E explains that WEC devices have been tested in Europe and Hawaii but have not demonstrated for commercial viability. PG&E believes that wave power is a viable energy source along California’s coast, and received preliminary Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) permits in March 2008. PG&E proposes that WaveConnect will be funded in three stages. The first stage includes all of the feasibility and licensing work for the two wave sites and is estimated to cost $6 million over 3 to 5 years. These costs include fees for consultants, legal services, engineering and technical consultants, environmental studies, design and planning for WEC devices and costs for the deployment of a limited number of WEC devices for testing. The second stage, estimated to cost between $15-$20 million per site over 2-4 years, includes development of infrastructure, undersea cabling, and greater numbers of WEC devices. During stage three, the most promising WEC devices will be deployed in larger quantities up to 40 Megawatts per site and connected to the grid. PG&E does not have a cost estimate for Stage 3. In the Application, PG&E is only requesting funding for Stage 1. PG&E states it will request funding for Stages 2 and 3 either in separate applications or through subsequent ERRP AL filings.

Although interested parties do not object to either the Solar Center or WBD ERRP projects discussed above, IEP (Independent Energy Producers Assoc.) contends that WaveConnect should be denied ERRP funding. IEP argues that PG&E’s WaveConnect project would provide project development costs and give PG&E an unfair advantage over independent power producers in a competitive solicitation. IEP recommends that if PG&E wishes to pursue wave energy, it should do so through a competitive wave energy RPS solicitation. In response, PG&E argues that the results of the WaveConnect project will not be known for 3 to 5 years, at which time a commercial plant may or may not be proposed. Furthermore, PG&E notes the immediate aim of WaveConnect is not to develop a commercial generating facility to compete against other project developers, but to evaluate the feasibility of extracting energy from ocean waves. PG&E states that wave energy has tremendous potential as a renewable energy source since California has over 750 miles of coastline, or over 37,000 MW of potential, of which an upper limit of about 20% could be converted into electricity. PG&E estimates that an average 7460 MW might be expected to generate up to 65 terawatt hours (TWh) per year from California’s ocean waves. California’s 2005 total energy generated was 288 TWh. Thus, wave energy could potentially provide 23% of California’s current electricity consumption. It should be noted, however, that this estimate is an upper limit, since environment impacts, land-use, and grid interconnection constraints will likely impose limits on development. The wave potential along the 600 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline in PG&E’s service territory is also very good, and has a higher wave energy climate than further south.

Other states and countries are in various stages of testing wave energy projects. Recently PG&E filed an AL for approval of a PPA from a potential wave energy provider. The State of Oregon has also begun exploring wave energy projects. While these developments suggest wave energy may become a more common energy source, the question remains as to whether we should wait until other possible wave energy developers enter the market, or approve the WaveConnect project as a means of furthering wave energy development now. It is apparent that legislation encouraging renewable power and reductions in GHG strongly support all reasonable cost effective means to achieve these ends. Furthermore, as proposed by PG&E, the commercial development of wave energy is not an immediate goal but rather a lengthy study necessary to prove or disprove the potential for wave energy from various WEC devices. On that basis we believe it important to begin expanding our knowledge and understanding of whether wave energy is a reasonable means for achieving these goals now rather than waiting to see how this market may develop. We will conditionally authorize PG&E to begin the WaveConnect project as part of its ERRP. However we are less certain about the WaveConnect project as proposed over the many years outlined in the Application and WaveConnect information provided in PG&E’s Response. We desire to allow PG&E to move forward with the tasks to complete the goals and milestones in year one, including steps necessary to file the Pre-Application Document by March 2009, which is the next milestone in the FERC licensing process. While PG&E is conducting these activities, ED and its TRP consultants will review the other activities proposed in Stage 1 from years two through five. As a result, we only authorize PG&E to spend up to $2 million in ERRP funds to cover the expenditures necessary to complete the tasks for Year 1.

Once the TRP is established, it will review WaveConnect and recommend to ED whether, and how much additional spending is reasonable. Following this review, and upon receipt of a letter from the Energy Division directing PG&E on how to proceed, PG&E may file a Tier 2 or Tier 371 AL requesting additional funds for the WaveConnect project. In this AL filing, PG&E must demonstrate that it has acquired additional funds covering at least 20% of the total amount requested for Stage 1.72 PG&E shall record and recover these costs as described in Section 5.11.

In addition to seeking funding for Stage 1, PG&E indicated that it would seek funding for Stages 2 and 3 through subsequent ERRP AL filings or through applications. Since the maximum ERRP funding for one project is $7 million dollars, PG&E cannot exceed this limit over the life of WaveConnect. Thus, if PG&E is authorized to expend up to $6 million for Stage 1 through ERRP, WaveConnect will only be eligible for $1 million in additional funding for future stages. PG&E cannot request over $7 million in ratepayer funding for WaveConnect through subsequent ERRP funding periods nor through a separate application.

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Publisher’s Note: On May 21, 2008 FERC Rejected Mendocino’s Request for Rehearing so the granting of the Rehearing was short-lived and only because FERC required more time to consider the rehearing further. Interesting that FERC doesn’t suffer from ‘out of time’ issues!

MendoCoastCurrent, May 1, 2008

Learned today the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted a Rehearing related to its March 4, 2008 Notice Denying Late Intervention and, additionally, FERC granted a Rehearing related to the Issued Orders for PG&E’s Wave Energy Development Preliminary Permits of March 13, 2008…both Humboldt and Fort Bragg coastal areas are affected by these actions. Cited reasons for rehearings: further consideration.

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ANNIE CORREAL, The New York Times, April 27, 2008

FORT BRAGG, Calif. — On a warm April evening, 90 people crowded into the cafeteria of Redwood Elementary School here to meet with representatives of the State Department of Toxic Substances Control.

The substance at issue was dioxin, a pollutant that infests the site of a former lumber mill in this town 130 miles north of San Francisco. And the method of cleanup being proposed was a novel one: mushrooms.

Mushrooms have been used in the cleaning up of oil spills, a process called bioremediation, but they have not been used to treat dioxin.

“I am going to make a heretical suggestion,” said Debra Scott, who works at a health food collective and has lived in the area for more than two decades, to whoops and cheers. “We could be the pilot study.”

Fort Bragg is in Mendocino County, a stretch of coast known for its grand seascapes, organic wineries and trailblazing politics: the county was the first in the nation to legalize medical marijuana and to ban genetically modified crops and animals.

Fort Bragg, population 7,000, never fit in here. Home to the country’s second-largest redwood mill for over a century, it was a working man’s town where the only wine tasting was at a row of smoky taverns. But change has come since the mill closed in 2002.

The town already has a Fair Trade coffee company and a raw food cooking school. The City Council is considering a ban on plastic grocery bags. And with the push for mushrooms, the town seems to have officially exchanged its grit for green.

The mill, owned by Georgia-Pacific, took up 420 acres, a space roughly half the size of Central Park, between downtown Fort Bragg and the Pacific Ocean. Among several toxic hot spots discovered here were five plots of soil with high levels of dioxin that Georgia-Pacific says were ash piles from 2001-2, when the mill burned wood from Bay Area landfills to create power and sell it to Pacific Gas & Electric.

Debate remains about how toxic dioxin is to humans, but the Department of Toxic Substances Control says there is no safe level of exposure.

Kimi Klein, a human health toxicologist with the department, said that although the dioxin on the mill site was not the most toxic dioxin out there, there was “very good evidence” that chronic exposure to dioxin caused cancer and “it is our policy to say if any chemical causes cancer there is no safe level.”

Fort Bragg must clean the dioxin-contaminated coastline this year or risk losing a $4.2 million grant from the California Coastal Conservancy for a coastal trail. Its options: haul the soil in a thousand truckloads to a landfill about 200 miles away, or bury it on site in a plastic-lined, 1.3-acre landfill.

Alarmed by the ultimatum, residents called in Paul E. Stamets, author of “Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World.”

Typically, contaminated soil is hauled off, buried or burned. Using the mushroom method, Mr. Stamets said, it is put in plots, strewn with straw and left alone with mushroom spawn. The spawn release a fine, threadlike web called mycelium that secretes enzymes “like little Pac-Mans that break down molecular bonds,” Mr. Stamets said. And presto: toxins fall apart.

In January, Mr. Stamets came down from Fungi Perfecti, his mushroom farm in Olympia, Wash. He walked the three-mile coastline at the site, winding around rocky coves on wind-swept bluffs where grass has grown over an airstrip but barely conceals the ash piles. It was “one of the most beautiful places in the world, hands down,” he said.

Quick to caution against easy remedies — “I am not a panacea for all their problems” — he said he had hope for cleaning up dioxin and other hazardous substances on the site. “The less recalcitrant toxins could be broken down within 10 years.”

At least two dioxin-degrading species of mushroom indigenous to the Northern California coast could work, he said: turkey tail and oyster mushrooms. Turkey tails have ruffled edges and are made into medicinal tea. Oyster mushrooms have domed tops and are frequently found in Asian food.

Local mushroom enthusiasts envision the site as a global center for the study of bioremediation that could even export fungi to other polluted communities.

“Eventually, it could be covered in mushrooms,” said Antonio Wuttke, who lives in neighboring Mendocino and describes his occupation as environmental landscape designer, over a cup of organic Sumatra at the Headlands Coffeehouse.

The proposal is not without critics, however.

“There still needs to be further testing on whether it works on dioxin,” said Edgardo R. Gillera, a hazardous substances scientist for the State Department of Toxic Substances Control. “There has only been a handful of tests, in labs and field studies on a much smaller scale. I need to see more studies on a larger scale to consider it a viable option.”

On April 14, at a packed City Council meeting, an environmental consultant hired by the city voiced skepticism, citing a study finding that mushrooms reduced dioxins by only 50 percent. Jonathan Shepard, a soccer coach, stood up and asked: “Why ‘only’? I think we should rephrase that. I think we should give thanks and praise to a merciful God that provided a mushroom that eats the worst possible toxin that man can create.”

Jim Tarbell, an author and something of a sociologist of the Mendocino Coast, said the enthusiasm for bioremediation showed a change in the culture at large.

“We are trying to move from the extraction economy to the restoration economy,” Mr. Tarbell said. “I think that’s a choice that a broad cross-section of the country is going to have to look at.”

At the April 14 meeting, Georgia-Pacific promised to finance a pilot project. Roger J. Hilarides, who manages cleanups for the company, offered the city at least one 10-cubic-yard bin of dioxin-laced soil and a 5-year lease on the site’s greenhouse and drying sheds for mushroom testing. And the City Council said it would approve the landfill but only if it came with bioremediation experiments.

So, sometime later this year, Mr. Stamets is scheduled to begin testing a dump truck’s load of dioxin-laced dirt in Fort Bragg.

“One bin. Ten cubic yards. That’s a beginning,” said Dave Turner, a Council member. “I have hope — I wouldn’t bet my house on it — but I have a hope we can bioremediate this.”

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MendoCoastCurrent, April 24, 2008

Since late 2007 PG&E has dispatched government relations and program managers to broadcast their pledge and intention to work with Mendocino County Supervisors, Fort Bragg Councilpersons, FISH (Fishermen Interested in Safe Hydrokinetics) and Concerned Coastal Residents as they move swiftly to explore wave energy development off the Mendocino Coast. Based on current actions, PG&E is working all sides of the Mendocino Coast, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) and PG&E renewable energy corporate goals to move their agenda forward.

Mendocino Coast Citizens, County, FISH and Fort Bragg reactions have been leery and FERC indicates ‘a little too late.’ Local government asserts that when Mendocino, FISH and Fort Bragg missed important response dates in the FERC proceedings, it was due to FERC and PG&E failing to provide the required timely, local, written notice of PG&E’s Application for the Preliminary Permit.

Meanwhile in public meetings, letters and in conversations, PG&E has voiced support of Fort Bragg’s, FISH’s and the County of Mendocino’s move to Intervene in FERC/PG&E Preliminary Permit going so far as to express ‘surprise’ of the FERC/PG&E Preliminary Permit issuance (on March 13, 2008 ) in a comment at a Town Hall meeting. Then PG&E sent letters (Ft. Bragg, Mendocino County, FISH) of concern when FERC denied their efforts to Intervene on March 5, 2008.

The Mendocino public requested PG&E to file Letters of Support for Intervener Status in the FERC docket. PG&E lawyers decided to reject that request when they filed an Answer to Mendocino County’s Request for Re-Hearing, opposing Mendocino’s Request for Re-Hearing on the FERC Denial of Intervener status, mostly supporting that their notice was correct when they failed to provide the required local, written notice as required by FERC.

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Updates from Frank Hartzell’s article announcing FERC’s granting of GreenWave’s application:

On December 9, 2008  “the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted a Southern California development company exclusive rights to 17 square miles off the town of Mendocino for a wave energy study.

GreenWave LLC’s intent is to eventually produce a 100 megawatt wave energy power plant, more than twice as big as the 40 megawatt project Pacific Gas & Electric plans off Fort Bragg.

Due to redefining of the preliminary permit process by FERC, the new preliminary permit does not encourage in-water testing. It does give sole claim and study rights to GreenWave, blocking any local study of the same area.

More valuable, the preliminary permit gives GreenWave exclusive first rights to a license to build a wave energy farm, upon completion of the three-year study.

The preliminary permit came more than a year after GreenWave, of Thousand Oaks, filed for two preliminary permits. FERC had initially rejected the GreenWave application as too sketchy.

GreenWave also was granted a preliminary permit on Tuesday for a nearly identical proposal off San Luis Obispo.

 

*****

DAVID SNEED, The Tribune of San Luis Obispo, April 2008

A Southern California company is eyeing the coastline off Montaña de Oro State Park to study the feasibility of an emerging renewable energy technology—converting wave action to electricity.

Green Wave Energy Solutions LLC has laid claim to a three-mile-wide swath of ocean a mile off the tip of the Morro Bay sand spit to Point Buchon —17 square miles in all — in which it hopes to eventually test the feasibility of wave power.

The Thousand Oaks company has applied to federal energy officials for permission to do the study.

“We’re still early on in development, but we feel there is a tremendous window of opportunity to do this,” said Wayne Burkamp, a San Francisco attorney who is GreenWave’s president.

The application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a preliminary permit would not give the company permission to put wave energy devices in the water. Rather, it would give the company three years to study the feasibility of wave energy.

“It’s like a mining claim,” said Allison Detmer, director of the state Coastal Commission’s energy program.

The application is one of several before FERC laying claim to coastal waters of California for possible development of wave energy.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) recently received a preliminary permit to study the feasibility of wave energy off the coast of Mendocino and Humboldt counties.

Green Wave also has an application for the Mendocino coast. Wave energy projects are also in the works in Oregon and Washington.

The San Luis Obispo County project is the southernmost.

Undecided technology

Neither the PG&E nor GreenWave applications state what type of wave energy devices would be used.

Two types are under development, Burkamp said. Both use the up-and-down motion of waves to generate electricity. One consists of a snake-like line of tubes floating on the surface of the ocean that undulates as waves pass by. The other employees a buoy that uses the pitching and heaving motions caused by waves to generate power.

Green Wave officials aren’t providing additional details on what technology they might use.

“Given the time horizon for getting through the permitting process (which could be years) and the uncertainties of what the technologies will actually look like, GreenWave believes it would be misleading to provide detailed specifications of a technology at this stage,” Burkamp wrote in the application to FERC.

A wave power facility off San Luis Obispo County could generate as much as 100 megawatts of power, the application states. That’s enough power for about 90,000 homes.

By contrast, Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant generates 2,200 megawatts.

The company anticipates spending as much as $2 million during the initial feasibility phase, while actual installation of a wave-power facility would cost as much as $40 million.

Regulatory hurdles

According to the application, Green Wave’s study area is one to three and a half miles offshore and seven miles long. Wave energy components would not be visible from shore, Burkamp said.

“A project area of this size is required to allow flexibility for performing the necessary assessments and properly siting the project components,” the application reads.

This area was chosen because of its abundant wave action and its proximity to Morro Bay. The city has a port and power plant, where electricity generated by a wave power plant could land and hook into the power grid, Burkamp said.

He said a test project could be in the water within a year to a year and a half. However, Coastal Commission officials say the establishment of a wave power facility anywhere in California is years away.

“This industry is very young, and they need to do a lot of testing first,” Detmer said.

Wave power facilities would also face many regulatory hurdles. Burkamp estimates that a facility would require 26 federal, state and local permits.

Placing wave energy devices in the water and laying transmission lines on the ocean floor would both require coastal development permits, Detmer said. Projects located farther off shore than three miles would be under the jurisdiction of the federal Minerals Management Service.

Environmental groups are reacting with caution to the recent interest in wave power. They support the idea of renewable energy sources such as wave power, but are waiting for details about specific projects.

“We think it’s important that all of these projects proceed with caution,” said Rick Wilson, coastal management director with the Surfrider Foundation. “Even though this is clean, green technology, there can be potential impacts to fishing and environmental impacts.”

Possible environmental impacts include noise, increased vessel traffic and blockage of whale migration routes.

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MMS nominated both Humboldt and Mendocino lease areas last Friday. See following for full details, emphasis added.

Federal Register: April 18, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 76)
———————————————————————–

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Minerals Management Service – Docket No. MMS-2008-OMM-0020

Notice of Nominations Received and Proposed Limited Alternative Energy Leases on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) and Initiation of Coordination and Consultation

AGENCY: Minerals Management Service (MMS), Interior.

ACTION: Announcement of nominations and processing priorities, inquiry on competing nominations for proposed limited alternative energy leases, and request for comments from interested and affected parties.

———————————————————————–

SUMMARY: On November 6, 2007, the Minerals Management Service (MMS) published in the Federal Register (72 FR 214, pp. 62673-62675) a request for information and nominations of areas for leases authorizing alternative energy

[[Page 21153]]

resource assessment and technology testing activities pursuant to
subsection 8(p) of the OCS Lands Act, as amended.
We received over 40 nominations of areas for limited leases
authorizing such activities relating to wind, wave, and ocean current
energy resources on the OCS. The MMS has considered the nominations in
light of relevant criteria for proceeding with the issuance of leases.
As required by subsection 8(p), MMS must issue such leases on a
competitive basis unless we determine after public notice that there is
no competitive interest. Subsection 8(p) also requires MMS to
coordinate and consult with relevant Federal agencies and affected
State and local governments concerning the issuance of OCS alternative
energy leases. This Notice provides the required public notice of
proposed leases by announcing the nominations that MMS has decided to
process as a priority and inquiring as to the existence of any
competitive interest in these nominated areas. Also, with this
announcement we intend to inform all interested and affected parties of
these nominations and invite comments and information–including
information on environmental issues and concerns–that will be useful
in our consideration of the nominated areas for the issuance of limited
alternative energy leases.

DATES: The MMS requests any competing nominations and relevant comments and information by May 19, 2008. As it pertains to nominations, this is a strict deadline, and nominations received after the deadline will be not be considered by MMS for the purpose of determining competitive interest in the areas originally nominated. Other comments may be submitted within 60 days.

ADDRESSES: You may submit your comments by one of two methods:
(1) Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Under
the tab “More Search Options,” click “Advanced Docket Search,” then
select “Minerals Management Service” from the agency drop-down menu,
then click “submit.” In the Docket ID column, select MMS-2008-OMM-
0020 to submit public comments and to view supporting and related
materials available for this rulemaking. Information on using
Regulations.gov, including instructions for accessing documents,
submitting comments, and viewing the docket after the close of the
comment period, is available through the site’s “User Tips” link. The
MMS will post all comments.
(2) Mailing your comments to the following address: Minerals
Management Service, Offshore Minerals Management, Alternative Energy
and Alternate Use Team, 381 Elden Street, Herndon, Virginia 20170-4817.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Maureen Bornholdt, Minerals
Management Service, Offshore Minerals Management, 381 Elden Street,
Mail Stop 4080, Herndon, Virginia 20170-4817, (703) 787-1300.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
Public Comment Policy. Before including your address, phone number,
e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your
submission, you should be aware that your entire submission–including
your personal identifying information–may be made publicly available
at any time. While you may ask us in your comment to withhold your
personal identifying information from public review, we cannot
guarantee that we will be able to do so.
Background. Under the interim policy described in the November 6,
2007, Federal Register Notice referenced above, MMS stated its
intention to issue limited OCS alternative energy leases for a term of
5 years that would authorize resource assessment and technology testing
activities, subject to specific terms and conditions. That Notice
invited respondents who wish to acquire limited OCS alternative energy
leases to nominate areas of interest by January 7, 2008. On December
14, 2007, MMS published in the Federal Register (72 FR 240, pp. 71152-
71157) a Notice of new information collection that presented a proposed
“Lease of Submerged Lands for Alternative Energy Activities on the
OCS” and requested comments by February 12, 2008.
In addition to the nominations submitted by prospective lessees,
MMS received numerous comments from proponents of OCS alternative
energy development, including industry associations. Several of those
comments stated that the interim policy should be revised to provide a
right to commercial development for those who acquire leases for
resource assessment and technology testing. As MMS stated in the
November 6, 2007, Federal Register Notice, the interim policy is
intended to permit the collection of resource assessment and technology
testing data in support of future development activity without any
priority right for future commercial development. It is designed to
begin the process in the acquisition of needed information about a
variety of OCS conditions under a relatively simple authorizing
process. Conveyance of full commercial development rights would entail
a much lengthier and complicated process than MMS is willing to
undertake at this time under the interim policy.
Therefore, MMS reiterates and reaffirms its interim policy as
originally formulated and proposed. Further, in the absence of
promulgated rules, MMS does not plan to revise the interim policy or
adopt a new policy to authorize commercial development of OCS
alternative energy. We will continue to defer consideration of
commercial OCS alternative energy projects until regulations governing
alternative energy activities on the OCS are in place, except with
respect to the two proposed projects that are the subject of the
savings provision of section 388 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
Prospective lessees, both the original nominators and those
responding to this Notice, must show that they are qualified to hold an
OCS lease before MMS will consider their proposals. The qualifications
for holders of OCS oil and gas leases set forth at 30 CFR 256.35
provide useful guidance in this regard to prospective limited
alternative energy lessees. Limited alternative energy lease holders
must also comply with all terms and conditions of their lease (see the
December 14, 2007, Federal Register Notice of the proposed lease form).
As stated in the November 6, 2007, Federal Register Notice proposing
the interim policy, a limited lease will grant the lessee the exclusive
right to conduct the activities identified in the lease on the
designated lease area. Acquisition of a limited lease will not grant
the lessee any rights with respect to the future acquisition of
commercial development rights for the leased site.
Nominations. We received nominations on the Atlantic and Pacific
Coasts. Most of the Atlantic Coast nominations are for meteorological
and oceanographic data collection facilities that would support wind
energy projects off of the coasts of Massachusetts, New York, New
Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia.
There also are nominations for areas off of the coast of Florida
focused on ocean current information collection and technology testing.
On the Pacific coast, the main interest is in wave energy, and nominations were received for areas off California, Oregon and Washington.
The MMS has decided to give priority consideration to issuing
limited leases for: (1) Data collection activities relating to wind
resources off of the coasts of New Jersey, Delaware, and Georgia; (2)
data collection and technology testing activities relating to current
resources off of the coast of Florida; and (3) data

[[Page 21154]]

collection and technology testing activities relating to wave resources off of the coast of Northern California. These locations of proposed OCS alterative energy limited leasing are described as follows:

—————————————————————————————————————-
Official protraction
Adjacent state diagram Block(s) Resource
—————————————————————————————————————-
1. New Jersey………………….. Hudson Canyon NJ 18-03. 6451………………….. Wind.
2. New Jersey………………….. Wilmington NJ 18-02…. 6936 and 7131………….. Wind.
3. New Jersey………………….. Wilmington NJ 18-02…. 6931………………….. Wind.
4. New Jersey………………….. Wilmington NJ 18-02…. 6738………………….. Wind.
5. New Jersey………………….. Wilmington NJ 18-02…. 7033………………….. Wind.
6. Delaware……………………. Salisbury NJ 18-05….. 6325………………….. Wind.
7. Georgia…………………….. Brunswick NH 17-02….. 6074………………….. Wind.
8. Georgia…………………….. Brunswick NH 17-02….. 6174………………….. Wind.
9. Georgia…………………….. Brunswick NH 17-02….. 6126………………….. Wind.
10. Florida……………………. Bahamas NG 17-06……. 7103………………….. Current.
11. Florida……………………. Bahamas NG 17-05……. 7040 and 7090………….. Current.
Bahamas NG 17-06……. 7001, 7002, 7003, 7004, ………………..
7005, 7006, 7007, 7051,
7052, 7053, 7054, 7055,
7056, 7057, 7104, 7105,
7106, and 7107.
12. Florida……………………. Bahamas NG 17-06……. 6702, 6703, 6704, 6705, Current.
6706, 6707, and 6708.
13. Florida……………………. Miami NG 17-08……… 6040………………….. Current.
14. Florida……………………. Bimini NG 17-09…….. 6001………………….. Current.
15. California…………………. Ukiah NJ 10-02……… 6405, 6455, 6456, 6504, Wave.
6505, 6506, 6554, 6555,
6604, 6605, 6654, 6655,
6704, and 6705.
16. California…………………. Eureka NK 10-10…….. 6031, 6032, 6033, 6080, Wave.
6081, 6082, 6083, 6130,
6131, 6132, 6133, 6179,
6180, 6181, 6182, 6229,
6230, 6231, 6232, 6279,
6280, 6281, 6330, and 6331.
—————————————————————————————————————-

The above locations refer to areas identified on the Official
Protraction Diagrams that are available from each MMS regional office
and online at http://www.mms.gov/ld/Maps.htm, and the areas are
identified as OCS blocks that are generally nine square miles in size.
The nominated areas may be located on those maps or on a map viewer
maintained by MMS at http://www.mms.gov/offshore/RenewableEnergy/
WebMappingViewer.htm.
The MMS reviewed in detail all nominations we received and
established our priority areas for initial leasing in light of
considerations such as technological complexity, timing needs,
competing use issues, and relationships to relevant state-supported
renewable energy activities, as well as considerations relating to
limited available MMS staff and budget resources for processing and
managing limited leases. We also took into consideration the
desirability of authorizing the advancement of activities relating to
each of the alternative energy resource types cited in the
nominations–wind, current, and wave.
We chose proposed leasing locations off of the New Jersey and
Delaware coasts primarily because the installation of data collection
facilities relating to wind would support the concurrent efforts by
those States to foster commercial development of wind power on the
adjoining OCS. We also selected the area off of the coast of Georgia as
a site for limited leasing related to wind because of the ongoing
efforts of Southern Company and the Georgia Institute of Technology
Strategic Energy Institute to acquire wind data to determine the
technical and economic feasibility of locating an OCS wind energy
project off of the coast of Georgia. Their efforts include the use of
existing U.S. Navy meteorological and oceanographic data collection
platforms and other lower elevation facilities for several years. They
now propose to gather critical data at a substantially higher height.
We chose proposed leasing locations off of the coast of Florida,
because the data collection and technology testing activities relate to
ocean currents. The State of Florida has supported ocean current
research through the Florida Atlantic University Center of Excellence
in Ocean Energy Technology, which includes several academic, Federal
Government, and private industry participants.
We chose two proposed leasing locations off of the coast of Northern California, specifically offshore Humboldt and Mendocino Counties, because the data collection and technology testing activities relate to ocean wave activities. The areas were nominated to conduct alternative energy resource assessment and technology testing with respect to the WaveConnect Projects proposed by Pacific Gas and Electric Company in each area. The Pacific Gas and Electric Company has sought or obtained permits from other Federal agencies and has applied to the California Public Utilities Commission for funds to conduct studies related to these projects.
It is important to note that MMS has not made any final decision to
award leases in the areas identified in this Notice. We have identified
these areas as our priorities for potentially authorizing limited
leases under this interim policy, and through this Notice we are
soliciting comments to determine if competitive interest exists in
these areas. Nominations that were not selected for processing as a
priority, as well as additional nominations received in the future, may
be processed by MMS at a later date. We have chosen to process a lease
or group of leases relating to each type of alternative energy resource
in accordance with our staff and budget resources and associated timing
considerations. Many of the nominations that were not selected for
priority processing appear to entail complex technology (e.g., new
deeper-water designs) or environmental or conflicting use concerns that
would make processing them more difficult and time consuming.
Request for Competing Nominations. As stated above, the areas that
have been nominated for proposed alternative energy limited leases are
identified as blocks on the OCS Official Protraction Diagrams. While we
received some nominations for areas smaller than OCS blocks, we have
decided that the minimum size for limited leases issued under the
interim policy will be a block or aggregation of blocks but will not be
smaller than a block. Upon acquisition of such a lease, a lessee may
contract the

[[Page 21155]]

original lease area by relinquishing aliquot parts of the lease, a part
as small as \1/16\ of a block.
We request respondents who wish to compete for limited leases for
the areas identified in this Notice to submit a nomination identifying
the block(s) in which you are interested, the resource(s) you want to
assess (e.g., wind, current, wave) and the technology you want to test.
Also, provide a general description of the type and number of
installations or technologies you would use and a project schedule for
the activities you propose. Your nomination of an area must be
consistent with the type of alternative energy resource identified for
that area (e.g., a nomination off of the coast of New Jersey must
pertain to data collection activities relating to wind resources). A
nomination that is not consistent with the resource identified for a
specific area will not be considered. The block(s) you wish to nominate
should be identified using the information on Official Protraction
Diagrams available as described above. Also, if you submit such a
nomination, please provide the name, telephone number, and e-mail
address of an individual for the MMS to contact.
With this request MMS is inviting nominations from parties who have
not previously submitted nominations for the areas identified in this
Notice and are interested in acquiring leases only for one or more of
the blocks listed above. Those who have already submitted nominations
for these areas should not resubmit the same nomination. A nomination
received in response to the November 6, 2007, Federal Register Notice
will be considered active unless the original nominator notifies MMS in
writing that the nominator is no longer interested in obtaining a lease
for the area originally nominated. If an original nominator is
interested in competing for a lease area identified in this Notice and
it was not the original nominator of that site, it must submit a new
nomination for that lease area as provided in this Notice. If you have
not already submitted a nomination and wish to submit one for an area
listed above, you must submit by the deadline stated above. Late
submissions will not be considered.
MMS Analysis of Nominations. The MMS will consider the nominations
received in response to this Notice along with the original
nominations. We will determine that there is competitive interest for
any proposed lease area that receives more than one nomination and that
there is no competitive interest for any area that receives only one
nomination. In instances where our analysis determines that there is
competitive interest, we will contact the competing nominators to
explore options for collaboration or refinements of proposals before
considering options for proceeding with a competitive auction. If we
receive a competing nomination that only partially overlaps a multiple-
block original nomination, we may determine that there is no
competition, because in such a case the proposed lease area subject to
competition would comprise the entire multiple-block original
nomination. However, based on the information we receive in response to
this notice, MMS may decide to issue a subsequent public notice
requesting expressions of interest in the partial area where the
competing nominations overlap separate from the remainder of the
multiple-block area proposed for lease.
In instances where our analysis concludes that there is no
competitive interest in a previously nominated area, we will contact
the nominators and proceed with noncompetitive lease issuances as time
and resources allow. However, we may first choose to explore options
for collaboration in the interest of optimizing efficiency. The MMS
will publicly announce the results of its analyses to determine
competitive interest and its intentions to proceed with the issuance of
leases.

Coordination and Consultation

The MMS invites all interested and affected parties to submit comments and information pertaining to the nominated areas listed above. We believe such input would be useful as we consider these areas for limited leasing, and we especially welcome information concerning geographic characteristics and environmental resources, as this will assist us in our environmental review processes. We seek information on the nominated areas relating to other ocean and seabed uses, relationships to onshore energy markets of the nominated areas, and applicable State and local laws and policies. We also request comments and suggestions on how we may best coordinate and consult comprehensively and efficiently to comply with applicable Federal, State, and local laws and policies. Officials of MMS intend to contact Federal, State, and local government counterparts during the comment period to discuss the nominations and the process for issuing limited OCS alternative energy leases under the interim policy. Such discussions may explore methods to foster intergovernmental coordination, including whether to establish intergovernmental task forces with Federal, State, and local entities for this purpose.

Dated: April 2, 2008.
Randall B. Luthi,
Director, Minerals Management Service

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Dear Ocean Guardians:

Now that corporations and Washington D.C. have started claiming our coast for wave energy development, we must take a stand. We are called on behalf of our beloved Mendocino coast and the organisms inhabiting the vast and mighty ocean, source of all life on our Earth.

We embrace a focused intention to protect our Coast from unwieldy, untested, potentially polluting and environmentally disasterous renewable energy development, including wave energy development — most importantly wave energy device deployment without best-practice and thorough environmental testing and/or appropriate consent of related government organizations (i.e. local, state, county, coastal commission, environmental overseeing groups, fishermen organizations, etc.).

Our goal in protecting the ocean demands an Immediate Moratorium on all deployment, permits, studies and reservations of wave energy development rights on the Coast of Mendocino, whether it be in state or federal waters. This moratorium is called in response to PG&E’s Preliminary Permit with FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Committee) that gives PG&E (and their consultants) the right to “study” our coast without OUR participation, judgment or care!

We shall not be shut out of this process!

Let us come together to protect our coast and defend it now!

Sincerely,

Laurel Krause
Publisher, MendoCoastCurrent

To learn more about topics related to Wave Energy Development and the Mendocino coast, please go to MendoCoastCurrent at http://MendoCoastCurrent.wordpress.com; email laurelkrause “at” gmail.com.

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Wave Energy

This is an older FERC map showing detail of Oregon & Washington best.

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Recently on April 3 & April 4, 2008, the County of Mendocino and the City of Fort Bragg respectively filed Motions for Rehearing to Intervene in the proposed FERC and PG&E hydrokinetic projects off the Fort Bragg coastline.

To read the Fort Bragg Motion for Rehearing, go here;

To read the County of Mendocino’s Motion for Rehearing, go here;

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April 1, 2008

Interesting reading…A Request for Rehearing has been filed related to FERC’s Denial of FISH’s Motions to Intervene in PG&E’s Mendocino and Humboldt Wave Energy Projects (read Filing : fish-request-for-rehearing.pdf).

FISH, Fishermen Interested in Safe Hydrokinetics, has become a steering committee led by Mendocino coast locals, John Innes and Jim Martin, as Co-Coordinators and Elizabeth Mitchell as FERC Coordinator.

FISH has polled the fishing community for much of the information in this Request for Rehearing, and it is clear that there is substantial, if not total, overlap between the fishing grounds and the proposed wave energy project areas.

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Mendocino Wave Energy Moratorium March

From the Mendocino Wave Energy Moratorium March held on March 29, 2008 to voice public concerns about the recent issuance of a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC’s) Preliminary Permit to PG&E off the Mendocino Coast, Fort Bragg, California. The three-year permit allows for deployment of eight to 200 wave energy devices as early as May 1, 2008. Mendocino Coast stakeholders claim that FERC’s permitting policies intentionally limit and bypass resident input as well as local government input. They are calling for a moratorium on deployment of wave energy devices off the Mendocino Coast now.

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