Rep. Carbajal Reacts to Joint Statement from Tribal Leaders and Offshore Wind Leaseholders Backing Cooperation to Finalize New Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary

Carbajal: “This unity should be a reminder to all that protecting our environment and meeting our renewable energy goals is not a zero-sum equation.”

Today, Congressman Salud Carbajal (CA-24) reacted to the joint position taken by the Northern Chumash Tribal Council and all three leaseholders of offshore wind lease areas off Morro Bay backing with ‘full support’ the proposed designation of the new marine sanctuary off the Central Coast of California.

“I’m encouraged to see Central Coast stakeholders speaking with one voice today to emphasize our unanimous commitment to creating the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary.

“This unity should be a reminder to all that protecting our environment and meeting our renewable energy goals is not a zero-sum equation.

“My team and I have been engaged with these stakeholders and the Biden Administration to advocate for the best possible pathway to realizing this sanctuary, providing critical protection for thousands of acres off our coast, and continuing to support the Central Coast’s position on the cutting edge of our nation’s renewable energy transition.

“I will continue to engage with all advocates and officials to ensure we finalize a  designation and management plan in the months to come that serves all of these goals.”

The joint position was announced today in an open letter urging National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the White House to implement a management plan which ensures a pathway to the full boundary of the proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary, connecting to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary north of Morro Bay.

The letter was signed by the Tribal Council and executives from Equinor Wind US, LLC, Golden State Wind LLC, and Invenergy California Offshore LLC, the leaseholders for the three sites auctioned in December 2022.

Earlier this year, Rep. Carbajal and Rep. Julia Brownley (CA-26) urged the Biden Administration to keep the initially proposed northern boundary of the sanctuary, extending through Morro Bay and Cambria, in their plans.

The lawmakers also emphasized the milestone the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary would be for federal cooperation with indigenous communities, as the sanctuary was the first ever proposed by an indigenous organization and would have co-stewardship with Central Coast tribes.

Rep. Carbajal has been an advocate for both the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary and development of floating offshore wind off the Central Coast.

As a result of lobbying efforts by these lawmakers and other local stakeholders and officials, including through Rep. Carbajal’s Offshore Wind Working Group, Carbajal and Biden Administration leaders unveiled an agreement in May 2021 to allow offshore wind development off the coast of Morro Bay.

Carbajal also long advocated for the marine sanctuary, which formally moved the proposed sanctuary into the designation phase in November 2021.

In 2020, Carbajal and California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris successfully secured an extension of the proposed sanctuary from the Trump Administration, keeping the process alive for enough time for the Biden-Harris Administration to move forward with the designation process in 2021 without needing to review a new proposal.

Last year, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management completed its environmental review of the proposed offshore wind leases in Morro Bay and issued a report saying it found no significant potential impacts on Central Coast ecosystems.

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