FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Washington, D.C., May 25, 2021)— Today, California Governor Gavin Newsom joined U.S. National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, and Under Secretary for Defense for Policy Dr. Colin Kahl to announce the opening of hundreds of square miles off the California coast to offshore wind turbines. The announcement marks the first time the California coast has been opened to commercial-scale clean energy development.

“Climate change is the biggest threat facing California seabirds,” said Audubon California executive director Sarah Rose. “Audubon’s climate science shows that unless we can keep warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, we may lose 389 species of birds across the continent. Wind power is an important ingredient in cutting carbon emissions and can be properly sited to avoid and reduce impacts on birds and other wildlife.”

The initial areas identified for development include nearly 400 square miles just north of Morro Bay, as well as additional areas along the North Coast off Humboldt County. The Newsom administration estimates that the initial sites could eventually provide electricity to power 1.6 million homes.

The National Audubon Society strongly supports the development of wind power as part of a pathway to 100-percent clean energy while protecting birds. Steps to reduce the danger posed by wind turbines and other structures to seabirds include:

  • Siting wind turbines in ‘low impact’ areas, away from places seabirds congregate to feed and migrate;
  • Working closely with conservation scientists and local officials;
  • Enforcement of existing laws protecting birds like the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Endangered Species Act;
  • Development of new technologies that help minimize harm to seabirds and other wildlife;
  • Ensure scientific monitoring of installed wind turbines and require adaptive management of turbines to reduce their impacts over time using best available technology and management practices.

“Offshore wind projects that are well-managed to reduce impacts to wildlife can have the potential to reduce our emissions and compliment the onshore resources to meet  our clean energy goals,” said Garry George, director of the National Audubon Society’s Clean Energy Inititiative. “We are excited for this next step toward leasing floating offshore wind development. Audubon looks forward to working with offshore wind developers, BOEM and California state agencies to monitor, mitigate and minimize the impact of offshore wind turbines on the species of birds and wildlife in our unique and biodiverse California Current System.”

CONTACT:
Jason Howe, jason.howe@audubon.org; 415-595-9245

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About Audubon
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.

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