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>> FISH v. FERC: Press Release [topic: previous/next]
PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 7:10 pm
Ken Jones


Posts: 9447
Location: California

Jim Martin, West Coast Regional Director, Recreational Fishing
Alliance:
Beth Mitchell, FERC Coordinator for Fishermen Interested in Safe
Hydrokinetics (FISH):
John Innes, Director, North Coast Fishing Association:

(Fort Bragg CA) An alliance of commercial and recreational fishing
associations, Fishermen Interested in Safe Hydrokinetics (FISH),
today announced that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
has extended the time to consider its requests for public
participation and environmental analysis in developing national
licensing regulations for wave energy generation projects known as
“hydrokinetics.”

The FISH Committee requested that FERC conduct a public notice-and-
comment rulemaking, prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact
Statement, and comply with other federal laws such as the Clean Water
Act and the Coastal Zone Management Act. The County of Mendocino, the
City of Fort Bragg, the Recreational Fishing Alliance, and Lincoln
County, Oregon joined the FISH Committee’s request for a rehearing of

FERC's policies.

"Hyrokinetic" energy projects include proposals for floating buoys in
the ocean that convert the motion of the waves and tides into
electricity, as well as submerged devices in rivers, bays and
estuaries that convert tidal action into electricity using turbines.

The FISH Committee believes that national regulations, developed
through public participation, with environmental analysis, are
required before FERC starts issuing licenses for hydrokinetic
projects, including offshore experimental wave farms. FERC has
repeatedly rejected this idea, preferring to “get this stuff in the
water and find out what it has to offer.” (FERC Commissioner Phil
Moeller, New York Times, December 8th, 2007.) Unlike FERC, its sister
federal agency the Minerals Management Service is using a public
process to develop regulations for ocean wave energy projects, and
has completed a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement.

Two wave energy projects are currently proposed for the coast off
Mendocino County, in one of the most productive marine areas on the
West Coast. One proposal covers 68 square miles, and the second
covers 17 square miles. Both would require significant exclusion
zones in the last remaining fishing grounds off Mendocino County.
More than 200 hydrokinetic projects have been proposed across the
United States.

"Naturally, fishermen are concerned whenever we hear proposals to
close off big areas of the ocean to fishing, but we're just as
concerned about the potential environmental impacts to marine species
our fisheries depend on," said Jim Martin of the Recreational Fishing
Alliance (RFA), a national grassroots political lobby for saltwater
sportfishermen, and one of the founding members of FISH. "We hope
FERC uses the extra time it has extended itself to carefully consider
these issues and do the right thing."

The FISH Committee includes the RFA, the North Coast Fishing
Association, the Salmon Trollers Marketing Association, the Sea
Vegetable Harvesters Coalition, Caito Fisheries, the Fishermen’s
Marketing Association, the Salmon Restoration Association, the Sonoma
County Abalone Network, and the California Sea Urchin Commission.

Potential negative impacts on marine life from wave buoys include
electromagnetic pollution and interference with migratory finfish,
whale entanglements and altering the bottom structure of the seabeds.
Turbine devices submerged in rivers, bays and estuaries could entrain
juvenile fish.

"We take this issue very seriously and, if necessary, intend to
vigorously pursue our legal options," said John Innes, board member
of the North Coast Fishing Association. "We are not opposed to
renewable energy, we only want to make sure we know what the impacts
will be to fish and other marine life before we sign off on these
projects. Considering that wave energy is in its infancy, it is
extremely important to have proper controls and regulations in place
to prevent non-recoverable detrimental effects on our ocean
environment."

The FISH Committee is considering its options including filing a
lawsuit against FERC. FISH is working with Robert Gulley, a former
Senior Trial Attorney in the Wildlife and Marine Resources Section of
the U.S. Department of Justice, in evaluating its options. Mr. Gulley
previously represented the government in numerous fish and wildlife
cases, including recent litigation over impacts on fish from the
federal dams on the Columbia River.

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