Legislation intends to protect Coastal WA from impacts of offshore wind

Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-03) introduced the Protecting Coastal Communities Act on Wednesday.

Gluesenkamp Perez, who represents Southwest Washington in the federal government, stated that the legislation is intended to protect coastal communities and the aquaculture, fishing, and recreation industries by prohibiting wind energy development off the coast of Southern Washington and Northern Oregon unless it is proven they will not face adverse impacts from offshore wind projects.

The Protecting Coastal Communities Act would require the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study assessing federal agencies’ environmental review processes for offshore wind projects in the Columbia Management Area.

The bill will prohibit any lease, license, or permit from being issued for commercial offshore wind energy development in the area unless the study shows the projects will not have adverse impacts on: shellfish aquaculture; commercial and recreational fishing; recreation and tourism; fisheries-dependent communities; Tribal resources; essential fish habitats; air quality and greenhouse gas emissions; finfish; and marine animals and invertebrates.

“Developers and politicians in D.C. often assume rural communities and regions are just a blank spot on the map,” said Rep. Gluesenkamp Perez. “We know folks in Southwest Washington have been fighting for generations to protect our vibrant economy and fragile ecosystem, which should be front of mind when new infrastructure is being proposed.”

“One of the biggest issues with offshore wind is that we don’t understand the scope of its impacts on the many ecosystems, including aquaculture, that drive Southwest Washington’s economy and are part of our cultural heritage. We’ve been increasingly concerned that BOEM is approving offshore wind without the proper and necessary research,” said Kathleen Nisbet-Moncy, COO of her family’s business, Goose Point Oyster in Bay Center. “We appreciate the efforts of Congresswoman Gluesenkamp Perez to require the federal government to fully research the potential impacts of offshore wind projects and ensure there is no potential for harm before moving forward.”

“No amount of rhetoric can change the fact that we do not need it, we cannot afford it, and we have multiple energy alternatives that are cheaper and more reliable available to Washington on land to meet our future energy needs far into the foreseeable future without displacing coastal jobs over huge areas of the ocean necessary to sustain our coastal socioeconomic wellbeing,” said Dale Beasley, President of the Columbia River Crab Fishermen’s Association and fisherman in Ilwaco.

Full text of the bill is available here.