Proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary

Northern Chumash Tribal Council and Morro Bay Offshore Wind Leaseholders Announce Joint Support for Marine Sanctuary

April 23, 2024

WASHINGTON, DC, April 23, 2024 – The Northern Chumash Tribal Council (NCTC) and Morro Bay Offshore Wind Leaseholders (Leaseholders) have announced a joint position in support of a phased approach to the designation of the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary (CHNMS) by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (NOAA ONMS). The parties recommend that upon initial designation the northern boundary of the CHNMS be located south of Diablo Canyon, and north of Port San Luis and Avila Beach. This designation will allow for the co-existence of the marine sanctuary, as well as the responsible development of offshore wind. 

The parties request that NOAA ONMS adopt a phased approach to the sanctuary designation in conjunction with regulatory clarifications. 

All parties have agreed that, following this initial designation, and at an appropriate time, the NCTC and Leaseholders will jointly support expansion of the boundary of the CHNMS to connect to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. 

NCTC and Leaseholders support swift designation of the CHNMS, with the shared belief that responsible offshore wind development, operations, and maintenance are compatible with the protection and conservation of marine sanctuary resources. 

“At this crucial time, we must prioritize conservation efforts and take concrete steps to secure the CHNMS,” says Violet Sage Walker, Chairwoman, Northern Chumash Tribal Council. “Our collective participation in this work over the years should inspire us to push forward with even greater determination. If we work collaboratively and cooperatively to address climate change, we can overcome any obstacles in our way. Failure to do so will result in losses for all of us. Let's move forward confidently and make a positive impact together."

The designation of the CHNMS will provide immediate protection to thousands of acres of sea space. The future expansion would result in contiguous sanctuary protection of the ocean from Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary to Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and further protect Chumash villages that lay on submerged lands, as well as habitat for endangered marine life, among other culturally important resources.

“We are proud to join the Central Coast offshore wind leaseholders and the Northern Chumash Tribal Council on a letter supporting the designation of the proposed NOAA Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary.  The sanctuary designation, in conjunction with regulatory clarity, will further support the coexistence of responsible offshore wind development alongside marine conservation in and around the Central Coast,” says Martin Goff, Head of Operations for Equinor’s Atlas Wind. “This clearly demonstrates that Tribal communities and industry can come together with dual goals to support climate action and conservation, benefiting California’s just energy transition.”

“Together with the Northern Chumash Tribal Council, and our fellow Central Coast Offshore Wind leaseholders, we are honored to have reached a mutually agreed-upon proposal for designation of the proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary and its future expansion. Today, during Earth Month, we are celebrating a shared solution to support ocean conservation, and Even Keel Wind looks forward to realizing the many economic and environmental benefits of offshore wind along the Central Coast,” says Erin Lieberman, Executive Vice President, Environmental Compliance and Strategy, Invenergy.

"Golden State Wind believes that responsible offshore wind development is compatible with and complementary to the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries mission through the proposed Sanctuary to promote marine conservation and reduce the impacts of climate change," says Tyler Studds, Golden State Wind Chief Executive Officer. "We welcome today's announcement as an important step forward in these efforts and look forward to continuing to work closely with all stakeholders as we develop the Golden State Wind project."

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

"Two major initiatives to protect biodiversity and address climate change are being proposed for California's Central Coast: the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary and the development of offshore wind,” says California State Senator John Laird. “We are at a critical moment where both can be achieved, as long as we can work together. This letter represents considerable thought and leadership by the Northern Chumash Tribal Council and the three offshore wind developers, and I support it. This spirit of cooperation is exactly what California needs to face the considerable challenges that lie ahead."

Media Contacts: 

Northern Chumash Tribal Council: Violet Sage Walker, Chairwoman, Northern Chumash Tribal Council info@northernchumash.org, (805) 356-6149

Equinor: Tibi Dean tdea@equinor.com

Invenergy: Sophie Lee slee@invenergy.com, Molly Weedn molly@axiomadvisors.com

Golden State Wind: Jose Miguel Mesa Josemiguel.mesa@oceanwinds.com, Erica Crawford erica.crawford@oceanwinds.com  

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Equinor Renewables US

Equinor is one of the largest offshore wind developers in the US, operating two lease areas, Empire Wind, off the coast of New York, and Atlas Wind, off the coast of California. Atlas Wind has the potential to provide California with up to 2 GW of energy – enough to power nearly 1.7 million homes. Learn more at www.equinor.com/renewablesus

Invenergy, Even Keel Wind

Even Keel Wind, an Invenergy project, is an American-led offshore wind development located off the Central Coast of California. Invenergy and its affiliated companies develop, own, and operate large-scale renewable and other clean energy generation, transmission and storage facilities in the Americas, Europe and Asia.

Even Keel Wind builds on Invenergy’s proven track record of clean energy project development, American innovation and impactful community investment.

Invenergy has successfully developed more than 30,000 megawatts of projects that are in operation, construction or contracted, including wind, solar, transmission infrastructure and natural gas power generation and advanced energy storage projects. Learn about Invenergy at Invenergy.com

Golden State Wind

Golden State Wind is a 50/50 joint venture of Ocean Winds (“OW”) and the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board, managed by OW. Golden State Wind holds lease OCS-P 0564 in the Morro Bay Wind Energy Area off the California Central Coast. When fully built out and operational, the lease area could accommodate approximately 2 GW of offshore wind energy. OW is a global offshore wind company with more than 10 years of experience in the floating offshore wind sector, inherited from its sponsors. Created as a 50/50 joint venture of EDP Renewables and ENGIE, OW develops, builds, and operates offshore wind farms in communities around the world, based on our belief that offshore wind energy is an essential part of the global energy transition. 

Northern Chumash Tribal Council logo - includes images of a California  Condor and dolphin
Even Keel Wind An Invenergy Project logo - includes an graphic of a wind turbine
Equinor logo - includes diamond graphics
Golden State Wind logo - includes graphic of a poppy flower
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