What is shaping up to be an ocean version of the Showdown at the OK Corral, Lincoln County Commissioner Terry Thompson told the public today that next Tuesday night will be a true test of whether federal regulators are willing to realistically work with Oregon’s fishing industry in properly planning federal waters off the central coast. The issue is wind and wave energy of course, and Thompson said that some regulators seem willing to proceed without adequate information as to where those energy devices should be located, or more importantly, where they shouldn’t be located. Otherwise it’s a threat to the Oregon Coast’s number one industry and job creating business – commercial fishing.
Thompson reminded his fellow commissioners Wednesday that federal officials recently conducted what turned out to be very poorly attended fact-finding hearings as to where valuable fishing grounds are located – that regulators would presumably avoid in placing energy devices. Thompson said the meetings were totally inadequate and that an offer to supplement them with internet webinars was unacceptable. Thompson said the local fishing community and others deserve the opportunity to look federal officials straight in the eye and tell them that they don’t support the way things have been going and that a better process is needed.
Thompson said after contacting Oregon’s U.S. Congressional delegation, enlisting the support of Oregon’s Coastal Caucus of state lawmakers, and the support of other agencies and fishermen’s groups, federal regulators have agreed to a face-to-face and frank discussion about the way federal planners have gone about determining how to divide up the federal waters off Oregon for wave and wind energy projects.
Thompson said what appears to be the situation off Oregon and Washington is an instant replay of what happened on the east coast when similar plans were launched by federal authorities. Thompson said if the federal government wants to be clear and transparent about the process, they must respect and listen closely to coastal fishermen and coastal Oregonians, if they’re to avoid expensive and time-delaying lawsuits.
The “energy summit” is scheduled for Tuesday, May 20th, in Newport at the Central Lincoln Peoples Utility District meeting room, across Highway 101 from Safeway. What is hoped to launch a more realistic meeting of the minds begins at 6:30pm.