When Oregon’s crabbers found this out, they were stunned. “We’re not against wave energy. It’s all about location,” says Nick Furman, executive director of the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission, based in Coos Bay. “We just don’t think that we should bear the brunt of its development because developers from New Jersey want to minimize investor costs.”
What’s more, the 10-buoy project is merely the start. Two years ago, Ocean Power Technologies unveiled plans for a 100-buoy array near the paper mill north of Reedsport and up to 200 buoys off the coast of Coos Bay. Together, the two arrays would fill one-and-a-half square miles of ocean with rows of generators, each the size of a 10-story building, with no plan in place guiding how to erect such a city in the sea.
“When OPT came to Reedsport, it was like the martians had landed,” says Onno Husing, director of the Oregon Coastal Zone Management Association, a coalition of coastal governments. “Oregon is the mecca of statewide land use planning, and it came as a shock that there was nothing in place for the ocean.”
Kulongoski quickly responded to the community outcry, designating the Reedsport Ocean Power Technologies wave park for “Oregon Solutions,” a state collaborative emergency problem-attack program. (Past successes have included relocating Vernonia’s flooded schools and slashing costs associated with dredging the lower Columbia River.) But Kulongoski also invoked the capstone of Oregon’s land use planning system—public involvement—by brokering a landmark memorandum of understanding between the state and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The agreement bought time for the state to develop policies for locating and operating wave energy facilities. But, more important, the memorandum mandated that fishing and environmental interests be considered, and gave the community a voice in where the wave energy installations would go.
“Like the bottle bill or public beach access,” says Scholz, “this is one of Oregon’s pivotal contributions to public law.”
With equal loves for the ocean, coastal communities, and the law, the Oregon Coastal Zone Management Association’s Husing found himself acting as architect of a marine spatial plan. Clean-cut and articulate, Husing has a subdued countenance that belies his flair for dramatic depictions of events. He describes the rash of preliminary wave energy permits in 2007 as the “gold rush.” He’s chronicled wave energy’s every ebb and flow in a series of newsletters on the association’s website. Steeped in marine policy for over 30 years, Husing produced the second state ocean policy study in the country while still in law school at the University of Oregon; it led to what would become Oregon’s Ocean Policy Advisory Council (OPAC). During the last three years, the natural-born negotiator has deftly brought the fishers to the bargaining table.