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Assault on North Coast
Mendocino Greens launch Pacific Ocean Sanctuary
drive to protect coast from military, business interests

By Dan Hamburg

MENDOCINO - The Green Party of Mendocino County has launched the Pacific Coast Ocean Sanctuary Petition, a direct appeal to President Obama to leave our coast alone and to work with Congress to promulgate Ocean Sanctuary legislation that will permanently protect coastal areas off California, Oregon and Washington.

The effort is needed because greedy eyes are turned to the northern California, Oregon and Washington coastlines as the next area for militarization and commercial exploitation.

At the end of March, 100 protesters greeted the U.S. Navy in Ukiah when it presented a plan to augment naval weapons and sonar training from Puget Sound south to Mendocino County.

Navy representatives listened to nearly four hours of testimony from county residents who maintain that protection of marine species and the overall health of the ocean are of paramount importance.

The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors voted 4 to 1 to address a letter opposing the Navy's encroachment for distribution throughout the Pacific Northwest.

The BOS also made clear that they will stand with a score of environmental organizations in the event of a lawsuit intended to stifle the Navy's plan.

And, in April, hundreds gathered in San Francisco to give President Obama's new Interior Secretary, former Colorado Senator Ken Salazar, a piece of their collective mind on proposed Lease Sale 236.

An array of state and US representatives, along with Senator Barbara Boxer and a representative from Governor Schwarzenegger's office, made clear that any plans to drill for oil and gas along the California coast will be strenuously opposed.

What was most strange about the San Francisco hearing was that it occurred in the first place. It was made necessary by congressional Democrats' abandonment of a 27-year old annual moratorium on new offshore oil leases, and by then-candidate Obama's pledge to "compromise" with the oil industry on new domestic offshore drilling if they would support renewables.

This despite the fact that energy economists believe that the total amount of offshore oil produced from new leases would have no measurable impact on gasoline prices.

Secretary Salazar and the administration want to pursue wave hydrokinetic energy development off the coast.

Rather than have the government sponsor the R&D that must precede commercialization, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) wants private companies like PG&E, Chevron, Finavera and other developers to try out new technologies.

This seems a fool's errand.

Technical data necessary to intelligently design these mammoth installations are unknown and will require decades of pilot level study.

Also, their impacts upon the marine environment are unknown but certainly include: the effect upon migration patterns of marine mammals, their interference with the fishing industry, changes they could make to the upwelling of nutrients that feed marine mammals, shifting seashore erosion patters, and much more.

The Mendocino Greens are asking Greens up and down the coast to download, sign, have your local endorse, and circulate the Pacific Coast Ocean Sanctuary Petition.

(Note: The author is a longtime Green, former Congressman (1992-94), former county supervisor and the Green Party of California's candidate for Governor in 1998)