News / USA

Oregon Moves to Zone Ocean

Attempts to coordinate competing off-shore uses

The ocean mapping and zoning process off the Oregon coast will attempt to balance a diversity of needs and interests including those of fishermen and ocean energy technologies.
The ocean mapping and zoning process off the Oregon coast will attempt to balance a diversity of needs and interests including those of fishermen and ocean energy technologies.

Multimedia

Audio
Tom Banse

U.S. communities routinely use zoning laws to control where businesses may operate in a neighborhood. Now there's a move to zone the ocean. A number of coastal states and the federal government have fledgling plans to coordinate competing uses for their off-shore waters.



The prospect of new wind-turbine farms going up within sight of popular beaches prompted interest in such plans in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. On the U.S. West Coast, the impetus has been wave and tidal energy development, but balancing competing uses for coastal waters has proved a difficult challenge.

Uncharted territory

At first glance, the Pacific Ocean looks wide open and mostly empty, but it's anything but that on a digital map the state of Oregon recently posted online. The interactive display includes some 150 layers of data about existing ocean uses and natural features.

Oregon Sea Grant fellow Todd Hallenbeck checks out prime fishing grounds on his laptop.

"There's a large area of the territorial sea that's important to fishing with the darker red colors representing some of the most important areas for each of the ports," he says, looking at the map, which lights up from Neah Bay, Washington south to the Oregon-California border. "We can turn on things like commercial shipping lanes...We can turn on some of the seabird layers that represent areas where there are seabird colonies."

Purple lines crisscross the screen. Little dots that appear along the shoreline and rocky reef areas represent seabird colonies.

Mixed-use approach

All this leaves wave energy developer Justin Klure, of Pacific Energy Ventures, feeling excluded from the initial set of lines drawn on the ocean planning map.

"First blush, those maps look a little intimidating from the industry perspective," Klure says, "because the areas that they've identified are relatively small and don't align with some of the basic requirements that the industry is looking at, which is access to port, access to transmission, certain water depths."

Ocean Power Technologies' rendering of wave energy park
Ocean Power Technologies' rendering of wave energy park

Hallenbeck acknowledges there are challenges. "There are not a ton of areas that seem to not have something of importance in them already. So the challenge here is finding the few areas that do exist that have the least amount of conflict."

And Klure isn't giving up hope yet. It's early in the process, too early in his view to be "drawing lines in the sand." To stay with the zoning analogy, he argues for a "mixed use" approach while more data is gathered.

Regulatory uncertainty

The planning process is moving slowly. That's creating regulatory uncertainty. It's scared off at least one ocean energy company interested in Oregon. Scotland-based Aquamarine Power closed its Oregon office this fall.

In a statement, the company expressed its hope of returning to the Pacific Northwest someday, but said it will focus on California in the meantime.

Aquamarine Power's energy generator relies on a large mechanical flap placed just below the surf. A more traditional ocean energy design uses an array of bobbing buoys. There are also new prototypes that employ pressure-sensitive airbags on the sea floor.

Groups representing the fishing fleet remain leery of such technologies and the ocean-planning process.

Ilwaco, Washington crab fisherman Dale Beasley has a hard time imagining sharing the sea with industrial energy installations. "Ocean energy and fishing are mutually exclusive. They will not be able to coexist in the same area."

Not everyone agrees with that perspective. A representative of environmental groups is more conciliatory.

"I do think there is a way through this," says Susan Allen, who directs a coalition called Our Ocean. "It has to do with the fact that Oregon is uniquely suited to deal with this. We have a long legacy of figuring out what compromises are. We are the state that pioneered...land use planning."

The ocean mapping and zoning process won't stop the West Coast's first commercial wave-energy park. Ocean Power Technologies' demonstration project near Reedsport, Oregon, has already been approved.

The company plans to launch the first of 10 massive floating wave energy generators there around the middle of this year.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid