Wind energy areas proposed near Coos Bay & Brookings, businesses skeptical

BROOKINGS, Ore.– The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is looking at offshore areas near two cities on the Oregon Coast to use as wind energy areas.

Governor Tina Kotek said it presents an economic opportunity for Brookings and Coos Bay.

BOEM said it wants to reduce any potential conflicts with commercial fishing.

But commercial fishers on the coast aren’t so optimistic about the state’s plan.

The Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission’s Executive Director Crystal Adams said, “we’re not very excited about it.”

BOEM is making its final proposal for two wind energy areas on the Southern Oregon Coast.

The first will be just over 60,000 acres, about 32 miles offshore near Coos Bay.

The second is 18 miles off the coast of Brookings and will total over 130,000 acres.

Governor Kotek released a statement on the plans today:

“Offshore wind is likely to play an important role in meeting our state’s growing energy demand and goal of 100% renewable energy by 2040,” Governor Kotek said. “It also presents a significant economic development opportunity for the Oregon coast. As BOEM moves forward with establishing a federal offshore wind leasing process this year, Oregon is committed to developing a robust and transparent state roadmap to inform offshore wind opportunities. This state roadmap will also ensure that coastal communities and Tribal nations are consulted throughout the process, in close coordination with BOEM.

“We will continue to promote active engagement with Tribal nations, local communities, and other ocean users in the state. We will ensure that all decisions are transparent and based upon the best available science and knowledge.”

BOEM said its final plans were developed after getting feedback from local tribes and commercial fishers, but some of those organizations don’t feel heard.

ODCC’s Adams said, “not only would it close off areas that have been fished for 100 years by these fishermen that plan on continuing to fish there, but we don’t know what it will do to the ocean floor.”

The Coquille Tribe is hesitant about the project as well.

Tribal Chair Brenda Meade sent NBC5 a statement:

“The announcement by BOEM is very concerning. It still leaves unanswered many of the concerns that the Coquille Tribe and others have with these wind energy projects. We continue to ask that they pause the process until those serious questions can be answered. More than most, the Tribe understands the changes that have been taking place to our land and natural resources, but we do not think responding with hastily thrown together plans should take the place of well thought out solutions. We all need to understand the impacts that these projects will have on our environment today and for future generations. Those impacts are unclear today.”

BOEM intends to do an environmental assessment of how the wind energy areas will impact the ocean.

It said there will be public comment periods for the assessments and an additional public comment period if BOEM moves forward with a lease sale in either area.

Adams said, “anyone that has to do with fishers is concerned. When you’re talking about their ground, think about a farmer. When you’re talking about taking some of their land away and not letting them go in it, around it or through it, it’s a problem.”

BOEM said the proposed wind energy areas avoid 98% of the areas recommended for exclusion due to commercial fishing.

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NBC5 News reporter Derek Strom is from Renton, Washington. He recently graduated from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University with a degree in Broadcast News and a minor in Sports Management. He played in the drumline with the WSU marching band. These days, he plays the guitar and piano. Derek is a devoted fan of the Mariners, Seahawks, and Kraken.
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