Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Florence: Oceanlinx Withdraws Application!

In August of 2007, the Oregon Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation filed a motion of intervention with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the Florence Wave Energy facility proposed by the Australian company Oceanlinx. This motion (the first ever filed in the world by Surfrider) was brought about by concerns raised by local ocean users of the Florence Organizing Committee who wished to have a formal seat at the table when discussions moved forward in the planning process. Major concerns included the proposed size of platforms, their location and it's likely impact on existing recreational uses, reductions in wave height, alterations of sediment transport, as well as impacts to aesthetics, public safety, and potential environmental impacts such as electromagnetic fields. The Surfrider Foundation supports finding new ways to harness renewable energy, as long as local needs and impacts are taken into proper consideration and steps are taken to avoid degradation of cultural rituals. After nearly 9 months had gone by since Oceanlinx had filed its preliminary permit application, and zero public outreach and stakeholder involement had been initiated, the company decided to withdraw their permit from consideration by FERC. For those who love surfing the south jetty, fishing and crabbing in the nearshore waters, or a nice stroll along the beach to view a beautiful Pacific sunset, this news was a major victory! This victory will serve notice to any gold rush dreamers that we here on the Central Oregon Coast stand ready to defend our oceans, waves, and beaches for the use and enjoyment for all people. (photo by Stiv J. Wilson)

Tale of the Sunken Buoy

This just in from Surfrider Foundation Oregon:

In Oct 2007, a Finavera wave energy AquaBuOY deployed as a pilot project sank off the coast of Newport a day before its scheduled removal. The 72 foot buoy composed of metal and rubber has remained on the ocean floor since then, with Finavera representatives citing winter ocean conditions as an impediment to the buoy's removal. In April 2008, the Newport Chapter of Surfrider sent a letter to the Dept of State Lands (DSL) requesting an update on the salvage plan and expressing concerns over potential environmental and public safety impacts. During the recent Ocean Policy Advisory Council (OPAC) meeting, DSL Director Louise Solliday emphasized the agency's commitment to securing removal of the buoy. Solliday indicated that if Finavera does not remove the buoy by July of 2008, (Temporary Use Permit expires) the agency will make arrangements to remove the buoy. We thank DSL for their commitment to keeping our ocean floor free of large debris!

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WA Department of Ecology Challenges FERC

On May 15th, 2008 - WA Department of Ecology announced that they filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to protect the state’s role in federal licensing procedures for energy projects. The petition asks the court to clarify federal law regarding a recent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) decision.

In December, FERC sidestepped the established licensing procedure by granting a conditioned license to Finavera Renewables, superseding decisions from other federal and state agencies with authority in the federal licensing process. Finavera proposes a wave energy project at Makah Bay off the Washington coast.

FERC denied Ecology’s initial appeal of the Finavera conditioned license in March.

Ecology argues that federal law does not allow FERC to offer a conditioned license in advance of obtaining input and consideration from the other agencies with a regulatory role in the licensing process. Today’s petition would permit the federal court to determine if FERC’s action is consistent with federal law. Ecology requests the court confirm the existing requirements of federal law by declaring that FERC does not have authority to issue conditioned licenses.


Wave Energy Information

This blog has been created to generate dialogue around wave energy projects. The Surfrider Foundation is getting increasingly involved in wave energy projects around the nation.

We have pulled together some resources to help coastal communities better understand the possible environmental benefits and impacts of these projects.

We plan to use this page to help others keep abreast of this rapidly evolving technology, which if done well and with community input may provide a viable alternative to our reliance on fossil fuels to satisfy our energy needs.