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Sea plan sailing toward adoption

Posted: Wednesday, Nov 18th, 2009

Efforts underway to meet needs of fishing groups and wave energy industry

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

Mark Twain’s irrefutable wisdom bobbed to the surface in early November as state officials neared a decision on the final iteration of a vital amendment to Oregon’s Territorial Sea Plan (TSP). An ocean of words derived from months of discussion and public input boiled down to determining one right word on page 3 of the 19-page document in subsection A.2.e (Policies).

The amendment pertains to the use of the state’s ocean waters (extending from the shoreline to three nautical miles out) for renewable energy facilities, more commonly known as wave energy parks.

The subsection in question originally stated that state and federal agencies would “promote the research and responsible development of ocean-based renewable energy sources...” The draft version recommended by the Territorial Sea Plan Advisory Committee (TSPAC) of the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) used “promote” in the draft it approved Sept. 11.

During its Oct. 23 session, the state’s Ocean police Advisory Council (OPAC) changed it to “facilitate.”

“The change may seem minor in nature, but it reflects a different perspective based on interests represented on OPAC compared to those on TSPAC,” noted Newport resident David Allen in an Oct. 26 written comment to DLCD and the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC).

Allen is the coastal public at-large member of OPAC, co-chair of the council’s TSP working group, and member of the TSPAC.

“Rather than choosing one over the other, another option is to use the word ‘encourage,’ “ he added. Which is exactly what the LCDC did, changing only that word in adopting Oregon Administrative Rule 660-036-0005 to amend the TSP as recommended.

“We are submitting the rule text and the TSP amendment to the Secretary of State’s office to complete the process before we can post or distribute the final adopted version,” stated Paul Klarin, a coastal policy analyst with DLCD, in a Nov. 16 e-mail. That process could take “a few weeks.”

But Allen said thanks to the effort of many folks - very notably Klarin - during the past two years, the effort is almost a done deal.

In March 2008, state officials inked a memorandum of understanding with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that requires comprehensive planning before issuing any license for commercial ocean wave energy projects along the Oregon coast. Gov. Ted Kulongoski simultaneously issued an executive order directing various state agencies to begin the comprehensive planning process, among them the DLCD, OPAC, and its TSP working group.

Under the governor’s order, Oregon agencies set to work to amend the TSP and Coastal Zone Management Plan to cover the possibility of wave energy facilities, determine whether Oregon’s waters are can accommodate them, and if so, where to locate them.

A fishing grounds mapping project currently underway is a key piece of that overall effort.

“Getting the mapping together is vital. We’re moving forward,” said Onno Husing, director of the Oregon Coastal Zone Management Association and a member of TSPAC. “The real work lies ahead. If this were the Oregon Trail, we haven’t hit the Rockies yet.”

The effort aims to encompass the needs and concerns of four major groups - the fishing industry and coastal communities; conservation and environmental interests; state and federal agencies; and the wave energy industry.

It’s a tall order, and much more lies ahead, but Husing said with the TSP almost in place as a framework, and on-going progress in the mapping effort, “the elements are in place, and we’re substantively going in the right direction.”

Terry Dillman is the assistant editor of the News-Times. Contact him at (541) 265-8571, ext 225, or terrydillman@newportnewstimes.com.

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