Source: Wikimedia Commons

See also: OP-ED: Citing Danger to Birds, Three Conservation Groups Urge the County to Reject the Humboldt Wind Energy Project

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The position statement below was first published in the latest newsletter from Friends of the Eel River (FOER). The organization’s conservation director, Scott Greacen, informs the Outpost that FOER will offer additional comments at the Nov. 14 Planning Commission hearing:

The wind farm proposed by Terra Gen for Monument and Rainbow Ridges above the Lower Eel River is, to put it mildly, not without controversy over its potential impacts.

Many neighbors of the proposed project strongly object to the prospect of gigantic wind turbines looming on their horizon.

Environmental groups, including FOER, are gravely concerned about potentially very significant impacts to wildlife, especially raptors like golden eagles, and various bat species.

And the Wiyot Tribe has expressed its strong opposition to any disruption both of ancient cultural sites on the ridges and of the sacred ridge-top itself.

Twenty years ago, or even a decade ago, these concerns would probably have led FOER to simply oppose this project, perhaps in favor of more attractive (if less well-defined) alternative renewable energy projects. Today however, given the scale and urgency of the climate crisis, it is critical that we move to replace our carbon-intensive energy supply as rapidly as possible. We no longer have the luxury of multi-decade planning horizons.

It is very difficult to exaggerate the threat climate change poses to the ecosystems we are fighting to protect and restore. We are very rapidly approaching conditions that threaten catastrophic disruption not only of terrestrial systems, but potential collapse of the oceanic foodwebs on which our salmon, steelhead, and lamprey rely.

Simply put, we must move forward with any and every potentially significant source of renewable energy as long as it doesn’t really mess up things we cannot lose. In our view, the proposed Terra-Gen wind farm does not yet meet that standard. Regulators must adopt additional mitigations if the project is to avoid serious harms to critically important resources.

However. If the project is adequately mitigated, as it can and should be, particularly for its potential harm to wildlife and for the additional risks of wildfire its transmission line presents, then FOER views the proposed project not only as feasible and defensible, but as necessary, indeed urgent.

We do not come to this position lightly, nor without awareness that it will disappoint some of our allies and supporters. But we feel a deep responsibility to address these very painful questions with a balance of passion for the need to protect the future, humility in our awareness of the limits of our understanding, and the honesty to speak the truth as clearly as we can, even if it is hard for many to hear. 

Additional information about proposed wind project

Meeting dates and comment submission

  • Public Hearing Thursday Nov 14, 4:00 at Board of Supervisors Chambers in Eureka.
  • Public Hearing Thursday Nov 21, 4:00 at Board of Supervisors Chambers in Eureka (suggested by staff, meeting not yet confirmed).
  • Submit 15 copies of your comments in person at either meeting or (suggested) email to PlanningBuilding@co.humboldt.ca.us. At the public hearing you may also present three minutes of oral comments.