Congressman Jared Huffman (center) held a press conference at the Wharfinger Building in Eureka Friday to discuss the latest surrounding offshore wind development on the North Coast. Photos by Andrew Goff.


Offshore wind development efforts are full steam ahead here in Humboldt. 

That was the message sent by Congressman Jared Huffman during a press conference at Eureka’s Wharfinger Building this morning. Surrounded by more than a dozen local, state and federal stakeholders, Huffman voiced his enthusiastic support for offshore wind and port development on the North Coast, touting the anticipated economic boon that comes with it.

“I’ve been representing this area for 12 years in the United States Congress and I have heard every manner of dream scheme plan to revitalize the economy,” he said. “None of it really holds together in a way that delivers the benefits and possibilities that this offshore wind project does. This [project] is incredibly responsive to the needs of this region, state and nation.”

Over the next decade, the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District hopes to transform its Marine Terminal II property — formerly home to the Samoa pulp mill — into a state-of-the-art industrial site to support floating offshore wind farms all along the West Coast.

“As exciting as all those possibilities are, I think we’re also very clear-eyed that it’s not easy; it’s complicated,” Huffman said. “In some ways, we are creating an entirely new industry and … we want to help California – the fifth largest economy in the world – to meet these essential climate goals. This project is a very important part of that, and we want to do it in a way that honors our marine environment, that lifts up working people with good quality union jobs.”

And at the “front and center” are tribal values, Huffman said, acknowledging the recent surge in tribal opposition to offshore wind development on the West Coast.“We need to make sure that this works for Indian Country in a way that, historically, some economic opportunities have not. There’s a history of disappointment and exploitation, and we are determined to get this right for our tribal partners.”

As of this writing, five local tribal councils have adopted resolutions formally opposing the proposed offshore wind project, citing “grave concerns” about potential risks to marine ecosystems and the sustainability of industrial-scale renewable energy.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su visited the North Coast earlier this week to hear tribal concerns surrounding offshore wind. Asked to elaborate on the outcome of the discussions, Huffman said local tribal leaders “expressed a variety of views,” ranging from “enthusiasm” to “really grave concerns.”

“I think it was a frank exchange of views that are not a monolith,” he said. “I think that we did a lot of listening and heard them, but I didn’t hear anything that I believe is in any way insurmountable. I think we can realize all of the upside of this incredible opportunity while making it work for tribal nations in a way that previous waves of economic development have not. And I know that the intention to do that is here and it’s sincere.”

Huffman was joined by 65th District Assemblymember Mike Gipson, Chair of the Select Committee on Ports and Goods Movement, who discussed how the Port of Humboldt Bay fits into a greater “offshore wind industrial complex” slated for the West Coast.


“I have spent the last eight months touring all up and down California, touring our ports, meeting with surrounding communities and I must admit: Humboldt, you have been second to none,” Gipson said. “Your hospitality [and] your engagement far transcends this moment. … You lead the way in making [this] happen, and I believe others will follow.”

While out at dinner last night, Gipson said, he had the opportunity to speak with a few local folks about offshore wind development and the potential benefits of the project. “And they said, ‘We want jobs. Not only jobs – we want to make sure the people who live here get the jobs first,’” he said. “When I was a local leader of the [Carson] City Council, a big department store was coming to our city, and I said that I expect 85 percent of those jobs to be found for people who live in my community. How can I feed my neighbor’s kids, if my own kids are going hungry? … We hear you. We see you. We support you.”

Dozens of local, state and federal stakeholders attended this morning’s press conference, including Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Senior Advisor for Offshore Wind Jana Ganion, Director of Initiatives at Cal Poly Humboldt Connie Stewart, Humboldt County Supervisor Natalie Arroyo, Eureka Mayor Kim Bergel, harbor district and county personnel, representatives from the major international firms investing in offshore wind, among others.


CLARIFICATION: This article has been changed from its original version to include additional context from Asm. Gipson regarding local jobs.