U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley along with U.S. Reps. Suzanne Bonamici and Val Hoyle said today they are urging federal officials — if draft wind energy areas for the Oregon Coast are released — to schedule three public meetings on the Coast for public review, and also to double the comment period from 30 days to 60 days.
The letter with those requests from the four Oregon lawmakers to Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Elizabeth Klein comes in response to concerns from coastal communities, the fishing industry and Tribes that their voices have been left out of the process to develop wind energy areas along the South Coast.
“Deploying clean energy is imperative to move our country forward and meet our climate goals, but it’s also important to have robust community engagement throughout the entire process to ensure any project is done responsibly,” wrote Wyden, Merkley, Bonamici and Hoyle. “In order to facilitate meaningful engagement, we ask that you specifically plan and facilitate in-person meetings in communities that would be impacted by the development of wind energy off of Oregon’s South Coast if you move forward with the leasing process.”
Members of the Oregon delegation wrote the agency in June 2022 with their concerns that Tribes, coastal communities, and fishing communities had been left out of the initial planning process – and reiterated those same concerns last month.
“While your response letter in July of 2023 explained a number of efforts BOEM is working on to engage and inform the public, we remain concerned the process is not adequately engaging all voices in the planning process,” they wrote. “It is critical that BOEM develops a deep appreciation of all community interests and fully studies every opportunity to reduce conflict with all ocean users before making substantial development decisions.”
“Following the release of the draft wind energy areas, we urge you to proactively solicit input on the draft plan during the formal comment period and answer questions in a timely fashion to allow for informed comments,” the Oregon lawmakers wrote. “We also request that you extend the comment period to 60 days. We request that you set up three public, in-person meetings in Oregon coastal communities to hear directly from them.
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