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In Fort Bragg, California on the Mendocino Coast, March 29, 2008 from 11-NOON

Mendocino Wave Energy Moratorium March

THE FACTS:

PG&E’s Wave Energy Preliminary Permit was Approved & Issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on March 13, 2008.

FERC DENIED The City of Fort Bragg, FISH and the County of Mendocino Motions to Intervene in Mendocino’s Wave Energy Development.

Both PG&E and FERC are NOW Swiftly Moving Forward to “TEST” Off the Mendocino Coast.

WHAT WE’RE SEEKING:

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION in FERC AND PG&E DECISION-MAKING about Wave Energy off the Mendocino Coast

HALT DEPLOYMENT of Wave Energy Test Buoys until further completion of non-deployment studies

PG&E — BE A REAL PARTNER. File Letters in Support of Fort Bragg’s, Mendocino’s and FISH’s re-hearings to Intervene at FERC.

MORATORIUM on MENDOCINO WAVE ENERGY DEVELOPMENT NOW!

NEXT STEPS:

FORMING a Mendocino Coast Wave Energy stakeholder group in early April 2008.

JOIN US for the First Meeting of he Mendocino Coast Wave Energy stakeholders group on TUESDAY, APRIL 8TH, 7PM in Fort Bragg at the FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, 367 S. SANDERSON WAY near Dana Grey.

Thank you for your participation!

For more info, go to MendoCoastCurrent; http://MendoCoastCurrent.wordpress.com;

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FRANK HARTZELL, Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor, March 4, 2008

Fort Bragg, Calif. – From roadless villages in Alaska to remote bends in the Mississippi River, developers are staking claim to thousands of miles of America’s oceans and rivers to test devices that use waves and currents to produce electric power.

Their experiments are launching a new industry that has the potential to supply up to 10 percent of America’s electric needs. But critics say rapid federal approval of the exclusive right to conduct these experiments amounts to a private seizure of communities’ waterfronts.

“This process, especially in Oregon, feels like a new Klondike gold rush,” says environmentalist Richard Charter, a longtime leader in ocean-protection efforts. “There are people filing claims, people jumping claims, and nobody looking at the big picture. The most amazing part of this power gold rush is that it seems to be happening entirely under the national radar.”

Many state and federal agencies, as well as surprised local communities, argue that the permitting process under the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is too rapid and prevents local input.

In Fort Bragg, Calif., Mayor Doug Hammerstrom was surprised last year to find that waters off his town had been claimed by a major utility with a preliminary permit application. The city filed legal motions to participate in the novel process.

“We fear that FERC, as a distant agency, may not consider local concerns,” says Mr. Hammerstrom.

The fast-emerging technology, known as hydrokinetics, is vital to US renewable-energy efforts, supporters say.

“Hydrokinetic technologies, with their great promise and potential to harness abundant supplies of renewable power … fit that bill,” says FERC Commissioner Philip Moeller. He points to Oregon as an example of state and federal collaboration, where Gov. Theodore Kulongoski (D), as well as state and federal lawmakers, have invited researchers, entrepreneurs, and developers into state waters.

As of Feb. 4, FERC had granted 47 permits for ocean, wave, and tidal projects and another 41 were pending. FERC had issued 40 river permits and 55 more were pending.

Experts expect the process to continue to accelerate. Developers are rushing into hydrokinetics because recent innovations in wireless technology and robotics have improved communication between the devices and the shore and narrowed the price gap with wind and solar power. Although it costs an estimated 20 cents to produce a kilowatt hour with hydrokinetics – still about three times too expensive to be commercially viable, more research could lower the price, supporters say. An Idaho study for the US Department of Energy has estimated that hydrokinetics could double the output of conventional dams by using rivers, currents, and waves at some 130,000 sites in all 50 states.

Congress and the Bush administration have not weighed in directly on the process, which has received major government funding all over Europe.

Fifty miles off Vero Beach, Fla., a developer seeks a claim on 1,050 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean to try to harness the Gulf Stream. Tides are already powering hydrokinetic turbines in New York City.

Most of the permits now being sought and issued are for river projects, some of them massive and virtually unknown to local communities, On Jan. 31, for example, FERC issued a preliminary permit for a 3,100-turbine project in the Mississippi River near Cape Girardeau, Mo. On Feb. 1, it granted 15 similar permits for projects on the Mississippi, each featuring more than 1,000 generators to be sunk into the muddy water.

That move provoked criticism from Janet Sternburg, policy coordinator at the Missouri Department of Conservation. “We are very concerned with the potential adverse environmental impacts from this technology on the natural resources of the Mississippi River,” she wrote in a letter to FERC, noting that the applications on file would affect more than 70 miles of the river.

FERC is mulling a plan by a Houston start-up to harness the Yukon River to deliver power to the Alaskan villages of Nulato and Galena, which are not connected by any road to the outside world, much less an electrical grid. While FERC insists it merely issues permits and does not make policy, critics portray the independent entity as more maverick than bureaucrat.

“FERC has a John Wayne self-image, in which it talks only to itself and not to the public it is supposed to serve,” says Elizabeth Mitchell, a retired National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration attorney, who has taken a lead in challenging FERC’s proposed hydrokinetic energy procedures. “As a result, FERC often shoots from the hip to the detriment of the resources it is meant to protect.”

Some fellow federal and state regulators and experts are calling for FERC to create an entirely new permitting process.

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TONY REED, The Fort Bragg Advocate News, February 27, 2008

The Fort Bragg City Council, also convened as the Redevelopment Agency Monday, heard and commented on some interesting information regarding the possibility of burying contaminated soil on the Georgia Pacific mill site.

Few were present at the regular Town Hall meeting, to hear City environmental consultant Glenn Young, principal geologist of Fugro West Environmental describe exactly how much contaminated soil would have to be cleaned up.

City Manager Linda Ruffing introduced the topic, saying the item was brought forth to be an early opportunity for discussion of how to handle contaminated soils from the coastal trail and parkland areas. The coastal trail is a 100-foot wide strip running along the entire coastline of the G-P mill site. She said one alternative is to consolidate the materials onsite and “cap” them as a long-term means of cleanup.

She said the remedial action plan, a document that dictates how the site will be cleaned, will be released in mid-March, but a preliminary draft is available for review on the department’s Envirostore Website.

At a meeting with the council in November, Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) officials said they would favor capping contaminated soils onsite.

“Once the Remedial Action Plan is formally released for public review by DTSC, there is a 30-day public review period,” Ruffing said. “It’s during that period that the [Redevelopment] Agency will be providing its comment, as well, as to the acceptability of the proposed remedial actions.”

Young opened by discussing the process and contaminants found on the coastal trail area, referred to as Operable Unit A (OU-A).

He said a screening process was used to determine the amount of risk contaminants pose, to humans, animals, plants and personnel involved in future trail construction.

He said based on the information, seven areas were determined to need cleanup. Young said lead, polychlorinated byphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins were found on the site. He said any cleanup operations would be done in a way to protect humans, plants and animals.

Showing a map of the location, Young noted that the consolidation area is located just west of the mill’s nursery. The nursery area is across Highway 1 from Safeway.

Young explained a state requirement that several cleanup alternatives must be examined. While a “no action” alternative is not feasible for the site, Young said it had to be evaluated anyway. Also examined were deed restrictions that would limit certain areas’ future uses so as not to disturb buried contaminants, and the concept of taking the materials offsite.

“The recommended alternative is a combination of removing some of the material, as well as consolidation,” he said. “The materials that would be removed would be those impacted with lead and with PCBs. The soils impacted by dioxin would be those consolidated onsite.”

Where and How Much

Lead was located in an area at the mill’s north end, which was formerly used as a scrapyard and onshore dump, referred to as Glass Beach 2. The area contained lead concentrations of up to 790 parts per million, over a 30 by 60 foot area, ranging to 2 feet in depth. Young said the affected soils totaled 140 cubic yards and would equal six to 10 truckloads to be hauled at a cost of about $43,000.

“From a practical standpoint, that would be a fairly straightforward and easy remedy for that material and that is the preferred alternative,” he said.

Polychlorinated byphenyls (PCBs) were found in a scrapyard site, and measured a magnitude of 27.9 parts per million, over an area of 150 by 200 feet, ranging in depth up to 1 foot and amounting to 990 cubic yards. About 55 to 65 truckloads of contaminated soil would be taken to a landfill at a cost of about $220,000.

Dioxins were found in several locations, ranging from a foot below the surface to 5 feet. He said dioxin levels range from 130 parts per trillion in one area to 316 parts per trillion in another. All affected areas contain an estimated 13,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil, he said.

Young explained that consolidating the soils in one location for capping would cost G-P about $1.5 million, while trucking it offsite would cost about $2.5 million.

Council member Dan Gjerde later argued that while the cost savings to G-P was considered, no information was provided about the better alternative for the citizens of Fort Bragg.

Young noted that factors such as underground water tables have to be considered when burying contaminated soils. In the proposed cap area, Young said the depth to a water table is about 12 feet, while the capping would require digging 6 feet. He said the excavated pit would also have a plastic liner on the bottom, with a fabric layer on top. He said that above the buried materials would be marker beds, a layer that would alert anyone who digs there that they are excavating into buried hazardous materials. A foot of clean soil and a cover of vegetation are typical. Young said since the future use of the area has not been determined, a vegetative cover makes the most sense to prevent erosion while being aesthetically pleasing.

Young noted that for any action a host of permits will be needed, along with approved dust control, trucking and cleanup plans.

He said the proposed capping area comes to nine acres, when only one and a half should be needed to bury materials from OU-A. He said samples would be taken during excavation of contaminated areas, and if the affected area is greater than anticipated, those soils would also be consolidated into the cap area.

“Having an area larger than what’s initially planned on is certainly advantageous, he said. “I don’t believe any of us envision that we would need the whole nine acres.”

Areas where dioxins are removed would be refilled with clean soil from surrounding areas, he said.

He said consolidation areas would have to be maintained and monitored, and a party responsible for that work would have to be determined. Finally, the Redevelopment Agency would need to approve the actions as part of the Polanco Act.

Young noted that deed restrictions would only be needed in certain areas, and that the coastal trail would be restricted from any use but recreational.

Timeline

With the 30-day comment period on the draft remedial action plan starting in March, a final plan could be approved in April. The Department of Toxic Substances Control may be able to extend the comment period if necessary.

Young said implementation of the cleanup could take four to five months, starting in June. He said offsite hauling could take up to two weeks while onsite capping could take as long as three months.

“Consolidation is a fairly common approach on sites,” said Young. “Putting it under a parking lot is also sometimes the selected surface condition. Sometimes it’s a vegetative cover, sometimes it’s a golf course or a basketball court.”

When asked, Young said some buildings could be placed over cap areas, but utilities and foundation work make it difficult not to disturb capped soils.

“You could do just open space, and that would be fine as well,” he said. “Whatever is identified, you would need operation and maintenance to make sure it’s maintained in that condition and that its integrity is intact.”

Bridgette Deshields, an associate with Arcadis BBL, G-P’s environmental consulting firm, said the nine-acre area was identified as the only area on the mill site where consolidation and capping would take place without encountering ground water.

“Closer to the bluff, we have deeper groundwater, but we then have the issue that it’s closer to the bluff,” she said.

She noted that an acre and a half consolidation area could be placed anywhere in the nine-acre area. The proposed area is currently owned by G-P and not a part of the coastal trail acquisition.

In response to a question from Mayor Doug Hammerstrom, she said the area was not chosen because of an estimate that nine acres would be needed to consolidate contaminated soils.

While some confusion was cleared up later about the possible use of the nine-acre area, more questions arose, including the possibility that it might become a dumping area for waste found on the rest of the site.

In response to a question posed by Council member Dave Turner about the durability of the plastic liner, Young said that it could last longer than 50 years if not exposed to sunlight, water and oxygen.

Compacted clay and other low-permeable liners can be used, said Young, but take a foot of depth to install, rather than the thickness of a plastic sheet.

Council member Meg Courtney asked about contaminants yet to be excavated on other areas of the mill site, and whether it’s expected that those would be added to other consolidated soils buried in the nine-acre area.

Young agreed that more investigation will occur, but said no one from DTSC or G-P has proposed to designate the entire nine-acre area for a future consolidation site. However, he said he would expect that will be discussed, depending on the volume of contaminated soils yet to be excavated on the rest of the site.

“It’s too soon to know what the volumes would be in those other areas anyway,” he said. “At this point, it is geared just for OU-A.”

Gjerde said that if a nine-acre area is accepted for that use by the department and the city council, and determined to be the only place capping can occur, it would become a workable option as cleanup continues.

“By default, we have been told tonight, that this is going to be the dumping ground for the entire mill site,” said Gjerde. “So then, do we want to give up nine acres, over time, as essentially, an off-limits dump site?”

Comparing the area to the eight-acre mill pond, Gjerde asked what could cover an area that large.

Saying it probably wouldn’t be suitable for a dog park, or a nine-acre parking lot, Gjerde said he is skeptical of the direction the council and DTSC are going in regard to dealing with dioxin-contaminated soil.

“I think at this point, why don’t we just say, haul it away,'” he said. “You don’t have to be a mind-reader to see what G-P is going to propose. If, in a relatively limited area of the mill site, they are going to save a million dollars by burying it on site, you can bet they’ll want to save multi-millions by burying it all onsite.”

Public Input

Local geologist Skip Wollenberg suggested that the consolidation area be created in such a way that soils could be re-excavated and moved if future monitoring shows contaminant leakage.

Saying the area was the highest land onsite, Wollenberg said it makes good geotechnical and engineering sense to designate the nine acres for consolidation.

“I really endorse the concept of having room set aside for sources outside of OU-A,” he said. “Whether it’s nine acres or whether it’s something smaller, it’s very prudent to have that.”

Back to City Council

Turner asked who would be responsible for maintaining capped areas. Young replied, saying a deed restriction would be placed on the future owner of that land, who would have to negotiate responsibility for it prior to selling it.

“Until it’s sold, it would be G-P’s [responsibility],” said Young.

Turner said an advantage to having the materials on site is one of access, so that cleanup methods, such as mushroom remediation, can be tried.

“One of the challenges of the specific plan process is finding a really great use for this capped area,” said City Manager Ruffing.

The meeting closed after more discussion about Coastal Conservancy deadlines and transporting impacted soils, with a comment by Council member Courtney, who said, “Originally, my preference was to have it stay here, because of my belief that this is one world and we are just taking it and putting it somewhere else, but this is not to mention the pollution [created by 600 to 700 truckloads leaving the area].”

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FRANK HARTZELL, RenewableEnergyWorld.com, February 27, 2008

The nation’s first hydrokinetic pilot project proposal has come in an unexpected place — the Yukon River.

When the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) proposed a special expedited pilot license last summer, it recieved significant support from industry developers for the idea of a license that would allow devices to get in the ocean in as little as six months.”I want to extend our company’s thanks for this proposal,” Kevin Bannister, Vice President for Business Development, Finavera Renewables told FERC when it proposed expedited pilot licenses in October.

“We think this is really a very good first step towards creating the kind of environment that our technologies need in order to get our devices into the water [for testing].”

FERC defines hydrokinetics as energy from flowing waters, not involving a dam. Tidal, wave, current and river energy plans have all emerged as categories in FERC’s hydrokinetic efforts and in some circles, hydrokinetics is being considered the wave of the future, even for places without waves.

An Idaho study for the U.S. Department of Energy estimated there may be 150,000 sites for wave energy development in the United States. Harnessing natural water motion energy could be a key piece of America’s future energy puzzle.

“We believe a reliable and robust electricity system will be the result of a balanced and diversified portfolio,” said Roger Bedard of the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). “Our studies show that hydrokinetics has the long-term potential of providing about 10 percent of our current U.S. electricity consumption,” Bedard said.

As of February 4, 2008, 47 permits had been issued for ocean, wave and tidal projects and 41 were pending. The process has gone on largely under the radar, with some communities expressing surprise at discovering that their waters have been claimed under preliminary permits. A FERC preliminary permit acts like a mining claim, giving the first application exclusive rights to study the area for three years. The permits also give preference to the applicant for FERC conventional hydro licenses, which typically last 30-50 years.

In 2008, the focus of hydrokinetics has shifted from the ocean to rivers, especially the Mississippi River, where tens of thousands of generating devices are proposed under preliminary permits. There have been 40 in-river permits issued and 55 more pending. Half the preliminary issuances have come in early 2008.

Proposals include harnessing the Niagara River, the channels between the Florida Keys and a plan to give a European-developed technology for harnessing currents its first U.S. test. That plan claims more than 1000 square miles of the open ocean off Florida’s Atlantic Coast to try to generate power from the flow of the Gulf Stream.

Alaska has been a hot spot for river preliminary permit proposals, with preliminary permits filed on the Yukon, Kobuk, Tanana, and Kuskok Rivers. Recently the Alaska Power & Telephone Company announced that it intends to file for a pilot license on the Yukon River that would bring power to the city of Eagle, located halfway between the Pacific Ocean and the Arctic Circle, near the Canadian border. While the preliminary permits anticipate generating plants with thousands of in-river devices, this plan is much more modest.

“During the pilot phase of the Project a single turbine with two side-by-side shrouded runners producing 100 kilowatts of electrical power operating in a river velocity of 5.3 knots while being moored to an anchor on the river bottom will be installed,” the application states. A pilot license allows a developer to hook up to the grid for a period of five years, and is restricted to small, experimental proposals. A FERC conventional license has no size restrictions. The Alaskan plans calls for a conventional FERC license at the end of the five-year pilot project period.

The issuance of large numbers of preliminary permits, however, has irked some environmental regulators.

A filing by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) challenges FERC’s standing to issue pilot licenses before applicants have complied with federal laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act

“Issuing licenses in incremental stages is inconsistent with FERC’s obligations under these and other statutes, and could confuse and frustrate license applicants. Incrementally building the conditions in a license is also antithetical to FERC’s goals of shortening the overall regulatory process and providing certainty to potential hydrokinetic licensees and clarity to the public,” the NOAA filing states.

At this point, much of the Oregon Coast has been claimed. Off Fort Bragg, and Eureka California, a competition is to be held for different experimental devices by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

Multiple FERC hydrokinetic permits are being issued daily for what can be thousands of devices in each river application.

On Febriary 13, 2008, FERC issued a preliminary permit to a limited partnership for study of the Mississippi River in Mississippi County, Missouri, and Alexander County, Illinois, despite objections to the process from those states. That project would consist of 4,100 proposed 20-kilowatt in-river Free Flow generating units having a total installed capacity of 82 megawatts.”Hydrokinetic technologies, with their great promise and potential to harness abundant supplies of renewable power by using ocean waves, tides and currents and in-river flows, fit that bill. I am pleased to be a member of a Commission that has adopted a proactive approach to encourage the development of hydrokinetic technologies,” Moeller said.

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Policy LU-5.1 Changes in Industrial Land Use: Require that a General Plan amendments and rezoning of lands which are designated Timber Resources Industrial be subject to a specific plan process.

Program LU-5.1.1: In order for General Plan amendments and rezoning of lands designated Timber Resources Industrial be considered, a specific plan shall be prepared which addresses, at a minimum, an area approximating one or more of the subareas as shown on Map LU-4: Specific Plan Area in the Timber Resources Industrial Land Use Designation.

Specific plans shall meet the following minimum criteria:

a) The specific plan shall make provisions for existing and future infrastructure connections such as roads, utilities, and coastal access to surrounding developed and undeveloped areas.

b) The specific plans shall contain financing methods to provide infrastructure and public amenities based on a nexus between development exactions being imposed and the development-induced needs being met by those exactions, establish an orderly phasing of development, and include other measures as needed to protect the health, safety, and well-being of the community.

c) The specific plan, and environmental studies required for that plan, shall be paid for by the applicant who may be repaid by future developers of other portions of the specific plan area on a pro rata basis.

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MendoCoastCurrent tracks the world of Clean Energy technology, research, development, news and funding.

As the Mendocino coast may become home to Wave Energy development, MendoCoastCurrent focuses on informing and exploring our role as stewards of the awesome Mendocino coastal ecosystem.

It is MendoCoastCurrent’s vision to develop a Clean Energy campus (wind, solar, biofuels, wave, desalination, etc.) for energy incubators, start-ups, educational programs and consortium, situated on an unused, 400+ acre coastal waterfront, now-defunct Georgia-Pacific Mill Site.

We are offered this opportunity to create an energy research and technology development center that implements best practices in clean technology research and development. All housed and working within a green constructed campus and tech center, along with community space and integration. Responsibly enabling the Mill Site to become a healthy and thriving environment to work, learn and grow! Situated on the wild and rustic Mendocino coast famous for its protected environs, sea and air.

Bio-remediation has an integral role in creating this healthy return from the remains of yesteryear’s Mill Site to a dream of clean energy development with zero carbon footprint, in balance with our world (and the next generations) as clean technologies are developed and explored. This, in turn, provides power to the local, coastal, community-owned power agency.

You may also look to MendoCoastCurrent for the latest ‘n greatest in Mendocino Clean Energy Technology development.

If you’re wishing to connect with us, please email laurelkrause (at) gmail.com.

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By FRANK HARTZELL of the Fort Bragg Advocate-News

If the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s new plan for faster wave energy permits was a play on Old Broadway, it would have been closed down by the critics on opening night. The critics in this case are the states of California, Oregon and Washington, several fellow federal agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Department of Interior,

Last week, they all filed public comments criticizing and asking for clarification about the Policy Statement on Conditioned Licenses for Hydrokinetic Projects. The unprecedented barrage of critical “reviews” called the new policy statement illegal and likely to slow down wave energy development by creating a Gordian legal tangle. The agencies have asked FERC to slow down and engage in rulemaking, a legal and public process that leaves an extensive paper trail.

The county of Mendocino, the city of San Francisco, the California Recreational Fishing Alliance and two Mendocino County women also filed public comments. The filings are the single biggest expression of official opinion about the issue on record.

“NOAA is particularly concerned with regard to how FERC will comply with requirements of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Federal Power Act (FPA), National Marine Sanctuaries Act (NMSA), Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Issuing licenses in incremental stages is inconsistent with FERC’s obligations under these and other statutes, and could confuse and frustrate license applicants,” the NOAA filing states. FERC’s new licensing process would have allowed projects to go forward on paper while permits are acquired. NOAA points out that blurs the process in a way sure to confuse applicants as well as fellow agencies.

“As a federal agency it is inappropriate, and obviously biased, for FERC to consider state and federal environmental laws as something to circumvent to provide regulatory certainty to developers,” wrote Helen Woodfield of Elk in her personal filing.

Perhaps the most significant filing was by the California State Lands Commission, which until now has been silent on the issue. The state agency takes the occasion to remind FERC that it owns the lands off the coast for three miles and that placement of any wave energy device would require prior permission or lease from the lands commission. Prior to that happening, a finding under the California Environmental Quality Act must be obtained, the commission’s filing states.

The State Lands Commission asks FERC to notify the state prior to considering any wave energy plans in state waters and asks the federal agency to call if it has any questions about state jurisdiction or how the lease process works. The commission includes a lease application for FERC.

Elizabeth Mitchell, a retired NOAA attorney living in Fort Bragg, filed a Freedom of Information Act request to get information about how FERC came up with the policy but was rebuffed by the agency.

“I think the message for FERC is that other federal agencies, the states, and the tribes all want FERC to conduct an open, public process instead of operating in secret,” Mitchell said. “They want FERC to address the serious environmental issues, and conflicts with other ocean uses, raised by offshore licensing of untested wave energy technologies. They also want FERC to recognize that states, counties, and municipalities have serious interests at stake, and that other federal laws like the Coastal Zone Management Act and the Endangered Species Act must be taken into account before FERC starts issuing licenses.”

Mitchell made two filings of her own, one calling into question the legality of the comment period.

“The 14-day public comment period on the Policy Statement is simply insufficient time to do the research and drafting necessary to prepare informed comments,” Mitchell said. “It is also far shorter than the customary 30 to 60 days for public comments usually afforded by public agencies for significant new policies.”

The comment period was also criticized as much too short by many other filers.

“We repeat our earlier request for a rulemaking process and ask that the public comment time on this document be extended,” wrote Jim Martin of Fort Bragg, West Coast director of The Recreational Fishing Alliance.

“We know of many members of the public who would like to comment on this but the time constraint prevents them from doing so. Significant tribal interests have not been contacted regarding these projects and we believe such projects are required to undergo the same environmental review that applies to other power projects,” Martin said.

Mitchell portrays FERC as an agency that operates in the dark and by its own rules. FERC has its own lawyers and doesn’t use the Attorney General, for example. Statements in the filing show that this concern is not unique to Mitchell.

“NOAA recommends that FERC seek authorizing agency consensus regarding the implementation of this policy through interagency discussions,” the NOAA filing states.

“We remain concerned that the Commission’s recent policies seek to reduce regulatory barriers and streamline the licensing process for hydrokinetic projects without due regard for impacts to natural resources,” the Department of Interior filing states.

“We believe such action is premature given that little is known about the effects of these projects on the natural and human environment.”

Mendocino County’s filing is a petition asking the federal agency to engage in rulemaking, the methodology the federal Minerals Management Service is using for its wave energy permitting process. The MMS and FERC have been in a jurisdictional feud as to who controls the wave energy process.

“The Commission fails to explain to stakeholders how precisely it is going to implement the procedures and how stakeholders, such as Mendocino County, can participate actively in these projects which will inevitably impact the livelihood and environment of its residents in unknown dimensions,” Mendocino County’s filing states. “Therefore, the County respectfully requests that the Commission implement the appropriate rulemaking procedure that will provide a structure for all interested parties to obtain the information they need to participate meaningfully and evaluate the proposed changes in licensing.”

Washington and Oregon agencies also called the comment period too short and the policy confusing and insufficient to address environmental concerns.

“I also think it’s very significant that Oregon is starting to express reservations. They’ve always been FERC’s biggest cheerleader,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell doesn’t expect FERC to listen to the critics.

“It appears that they are operating under a political imperative to damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.’ Because of the [Administrative Procedure Act] and [National Environmental Policy Act] their lawyers should have stopped them by now, but it was obvious from their behavior on the stage in Portland back in October that they are captive to the commissioners’ whims, and are falling all over themselves to please them.”

From a procedural standpoint, FERC states the new policy is already in effect, as of Nov. 30, Mitchell points out. That was when the comment period started, ending Dec. 14. So what will happen now?

“Your guess is as good as mine, but I think they will blow everybody off. Some legal moves may ensue, but that will be a future story,” Mitchell said.

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Press Release, Mendocino County, October 17, 2007

The County of Mendocino has filed a Motion to Intervene in Pacific Gas & Electric’s Mendocino WaveConnect Project. This action is urgently necessary and required because the proposed project is located geographically in the County’s “backyard”, in the waters and on land adjacent to the County’s unparalleled and protectively developed coastline. While the County is certainly supportive of, and looks forward to, the possibility of a clean, renewable, energy source off its coastline, the potential for significant impacts to its coastal environment, its coastal communities and its economy, necessitates recognition of the County as a primary stake holder and participant as the Commission further considers PG&E’s Mendocino WaveConnect Project. The County filed the intervention with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which has jurisdiction over these matters.

The County’s coastline generates roughly twenty-five percent (25%) of the County’s income in visitor services, tourist-related dollars, and tourism. No other party to this proceeding adequately represents the County’s interests and the County only recently became aware that its interests are not adequately represented.

On February 27, 2007, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (“PG&E”) filed an application for a preliminary permit for a project entitled Mendocino WaveConnect Project, located in Mendocino County, California. The objective of this project is to “demonstrate the feasibility of generating electric power from waves off the coast of Mendocino County, California. PG&E will obtain data and perform the acts required to determine the feasibility of a large scale wave energy project up to 40 MW in installed capacity, and to support an application for a license for such a project.” At this time, pursuant to its application, PG&E’s proposed project includes installation of an unknown number of wave energy conversion devices that would float on the surface of the ocean anywhere from one-half to six miles offshore. These devices would be moored and anchored by power cables to an undersea junction box, to be connected by a 40-kilovolt-transmission line from the undersea junction box to appurtenant facilities located in or near the City of Fort Bragg, California.

Mendocino County is predominantly rural; approximately seventy percent (70%) of its 86,000 inhabitants live in the unincorporated areas of the County. Although PG&E’s application correctly asserts the City of Fort Bragg (“City”) is the only city with a population of 5,000 or more that lies within fifteen (15) miles of this wave energy project, and at is the preliminary proposed site of the project interconnect location, the proposed project potentially impacts the County’s entire 120 miles of coastline and its coastal populations for a number of reasons, necessitating the County’s intervention as a party to these proceedings.

Mendocino County Board of Supervisors Chair Kendall Smith emphasized that the County’s adjacent coastal waters also support an active fishing industry community located both in and around the City of Fort Bragg and spans the entire length of the Mendocino Coast. This includes commercial and recreational fishing, crabbing, kelp harvesting, boating and navigation and other sports. The impact to the County’s fishing industry alone, valued last year at $5,763,0481, will undoubtedly have to be carefully examined and input from the fishing community seriously evaluated. PG&E does anticipate studying existing conditions to assess the potential effects of its project on three broad areas: marine life, use of sea space, and coastal processes. Its application covers a project four (4) miles wide in the east-west direction and seventeen (17) miles long in the north-south direction. Clearly, the project, the project assessment, and the project’s potential impact stretches beyond the confines of the City’s geographic boundaries and requires communication with, and participation by, the County as the project assessments are made and evaluated. Further, the County believes that it is highly likely that an impact in one area of its coastal waters will be readily transferred to adjacent areas of coastline by the actions of currents, patterns of marine migration, and channels of navigation.

“The County’s coastal resources are interconnected, fragile, and finite. The County believes its development must be undertaken only with extreme care, safe guarding both our economic and environmental resources,” stated Mendocino County Board Chair Kendall Smith.

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