It’s not every day that a presidential cabinet member, a White House official and the state’s energy commissioner come to town, and Rep. Jared Huffman wanted to underline that point Tuesday afternoon during a media availability on Woodley Island, where the powerful officials gathered to highlight offshore wind energy development plans.
“It is a big deal that today on Humboldt Bay we are being visited by two of the top environmental officials in the United States of America,” Huffman said.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory were joined by Huffman and California Energy Commissioner Karen Douglas. The foursome stood in front of the fisherman statue, with Humboldt Bay at their backs and a breeze blowing in from offshore.
“Since the first days of this administration, President Biden has been committed to confronting climate change, creating thousands of good-paying union jobs and paving the way for the nation’s transition to a cleaner energy future,” Haaland said, adding that offshore wind is a critical component of that agenda.
Back in March, the White House announced an ambitious target to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2030. Haaland said meeting this goal will create 80,000 jobs while triggering more than $12 billion per year in capital investments. Wind energy projects on both shores would generate enough power for 10 million American homes a year and avoid 78 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, she said.
Here in California, the state and federal governments have agreed to advance enough area to develop at least 4.6 gigawatts of offshore wind. A key component of that endeavor is the designation of the Humboldt Wind Energy Area, which the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management finalized last month.
Douglas said there’s a good reason for that.
“This region has the best offshore wind potential, really, in the country,” she said at Tuesday’s event. “It is very complimentary [with] solar, which we have in abundance in California, because the wind picks up especially in the late afternoon and evening when the sun goes down but when all of us are going into our houses and turning on our appliances and charging our cell phone and charging our electric cars. And so we need that.”
The government officials also emphasized the seriousness of the climate crisis, making specific mention of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report published Monday and the wildfires raging across California.
“We are in a climate emergency,” Douglass said. “We are experiencing these heat waves, wildfires, drought and the compounding effects of these events on our electricity system on so many aspects of our way of life.”
Below are a few photos of posters that were displayed during the media event, followed by a press release from the U.S. Department of the Interior.
EUREKA, Calif. — Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory were in Eureka, Calif., today with U.S. Representative Jared Huffman, California Energy Commissioner Karen Douglas, Tribal leaders and community officials to discuss offshore wind opportunities that will create jobs and strengthen the local economy.
Secretary Haaland and the group toured the Port of Humboldt Bay, the largest deepwater port between San Francisco and Coos Bay, Ore., which is being upgraded and retrofitted to meet anticipated needs of future floating offshore wind projects. The port is adjacent to an area under active evaluation by the Interior Department for future offshore wind leasing activity.
“Offshore wind will play a key role in transitioning to an equitable clean energy future. With rapid technological advances, falling costs and tremendous economic potential, offshore wind will be instrumental in the fight to combat climate change and create good-paying union jobs,” said Secretary Haaland. “Today’s visit offered a great opportunity to learn about the state’s leadership in investing in the offshore wind industry and the domestic supply chain, and the ongoing local collaboration and community partnership here in Humboldt County.”
“President Biden is taking bold action to build America’s clean energy future, and Secretary Haaland is leading the way forward on offshore wind,” said Chair Mallory. “Groundbreaking renewable energy projects like those here in Humboldt County will not only power American homes with affordable energy, but will create good-paying union jobs. While this is a step in the right direction, there is still much more work to be done to tackle the climate crisis, which is why it is so important to move forward with President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal.”
The leaders discussed the needs of California’s offshore wind industry, planned port upgrades, workforce training and community and Tribal engagement.
Open-air port terminal space and high lift capacities will be necessary for the staging, construction and deployment of floating offshore wind turbines off California’s north coast. Ports such as Humboldt Bay, and others throughout the United States, will help attract the offshore wind supply chain, create good-paying jobs and attract economic development in the local area.
Today’s event reflects the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to develop 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy by 2030, which will create an estimated 80,000 jobs. It also builds on the May 2021 agreement by the Departments of the Interior, Defense and the State of California to accelerate wind energy offshore the central and northern coasts of California. It comes as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s recent report found that climate change is impacting the planet in unprecedented ways, with a call for urgent action across the globe.
In July 2021, DOI’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced the designation of the Humboldt Wind Energy Area (WEA), a nearly 132,369-acre (206 square mile) area and is now undertaking environmental analysis for future leasing and site assessment activities. BOEM is also moving forward with government-to-government Tribal consultation.
The Humboldt WEA is approximately 275 miles north of San Francisco and begins at 21 miles offshore the City of Eureka, extending seaward out to 35 miles offshore. The WEA can support generation of 1.6 GW of offshore wind energy, enough to power more than 500,000 homes. Additional information on the Humboldt WEA can be found on BOEM’s California Activities website.
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