Posted on October 16, 2023
The law requires California’s Coastal Commission to process consolidated permits for coastal development, which the law’s main sponsor says will streamline permitting.
Sen. Mike McGuire was the primary sponsor of the Offshore Wind Expediting Act. His district includes Mendocino, Trinity and Humboldt counties.
McGuire said in a press release that this law will slash five years off the normal permitting timeline for offshore wind projects. He said it will help the state meet its goals in terms of climate change and renewable energy.
“Today’s action by Governor Newsom ensures California will move with speed and precision to deploy offshore wind. The signing of SB 286 shows the Golden State is serious about bringing on desperately needed new renewable power generation and meeting the state’s nation-leading climate goals and energy needs,” the press release reads.
McGuire was not available for comment Tuesday.
Offshore wind development is new in the region. In December, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management sold five leases for wind energy projects off the coast of California, including in Humboldt County. That was the first federal offshore wind energy lease on the West Coast.
But there have been concerns in far Northern California about offshore wind development in general, especially from local tribes.
In an op-ed for Cal Matters about this topic, Yurok Tribal Council Vice Chairman Frankie Myers said he has concerns about companies extracting vital natural resources without tribal input.
“The Yurok Tribe, the largest in California, will not let another industry commit violence against our people, our ancestral landscape or our cultural viewsheds,” he wrote. “Tribal nations may decide to support offshore wind development. If that happens, Native people must be in leadership positions through every phase of the process – from planning, construction and operation to potential decommission.”
The Yurok Tribe did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
This new law will take effect on Jan. 1, 2024.
It also includes the establishment of a working group tasked with developing a statewide strategy to ensure that offshore wind energy projects minimize impacts to ocean fisheries. This includes compensating commercial, tribal and recreational fisheries and fish processors for the potential economic impacts of offshore wind through the creation of the Offshore Wind Energy Resiliency Fund.
The working group will be composed of representatives from the California Coastal Commission, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the State Lands Commission, the Ocean Protection Council, representatives of the commercial and recreational fishing industries, the offshore wind energy industry, representatives of relevant federal agencies, representatives of California Native American tribes with affected tribal fisheries and other stakeholders. It must convene on or by Jan. 1, 2025.
The federal Department of Finance opposed this new law, saying it would result in significant ongoing general fund costs.