There wasn’t much of a split in audience opinions at the end of public comments on the second day of the Terra-Gen hearing.
Of the 36 speakers who expressed their opinions on the contentious wind energy project being proposed on Monument and Bear River ridges, only two spoke in support of the project, one to hisses from the crowd and shouts of “racist,” at a special meeting of the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday at the Adorni Center in Eureka.
“Everyone says we want to protect our unique environment,” the woman said. “Well I think people from all over the world consider their home to be unique and worth protection, but very many people around the world’s homes have already been sacrificed to the onslaught of climate change.”
Both speakers emphasized the need to help address the global climate crisis now, while opponents of the project spoke about the impacts to the environment, view and tribal-cultural resources.
Humboldt County Planning Commissioner Melanie McCavour said, speaking on her own behalf, not to overlook the impacts that the environmental impact report, which is required of projects by the California Environmental Quality Act, didn’t list, such as on the insects and winds. The environmental impact report for the project focused on other impacts that were significant and unavoidable, such as the impacts to birds and cultural resources.
“It certainly can be inferred that there are going to be effects on pollen drift from the effects of these wind turbines,” McCavour said. “And we just put a moratorium on hemp for those reasons.”
McCavour, along with majority of the speakers, also implored the supervisors not to overlook the fact that Bear River Ridge is a sacred site to the Wiyot people.
“Given the moral force of the request of the Wiyot people, deciding to support this project would not be based on moral value,” said Loren Cannon, a philosophy professor at Humboldt State University, “but on expediency, profits for a specific company and a staggeringly callous dismissal of indigenous concerns. You can’t achieve climate justice through injustice against indigenous people.”
Terra-Gen officials and the county’s Planning Department staff said they followed the consultation process laid about by Assembly Bill 52.
AB 52 lays out specific guidelines about how tribes will be involved in the consultation process when proposed projects may have an impact on tribal cultural resources.
The county had multiple meetings with the Wiyot Tribe and the Bear River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria, said John Ford, director of the county Planning Department.
Supervisor Mike Wilson also said he was contacted by a former state assemblyman who said the law allows tribes to register sacred sites through a confidential process so those locations aren’t made public while still providing certainty in deliberative processes.
“So the goalpost isn’t moving around as we move forward,” Wilson said.
However, one member of the public said there would be a massive protest of indigenous people similar to Standing Rock, where tribes were trying to prevent the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline by natural gas company Energy Transfer Partners, if the project was approved.
“They invited multiple tribes from across the region,” he said of the Standing Rock protest. “I don’t believe we’ll have to do that. We have cities and municipalities here in Humboldt County that are asking you not to approve this project.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding