The LookOut is a monthly digest of climate issues and recent developments in our neighborhood.

Eighteen environmental, health, political and social organizations have formed a coalition to expose dirty energy masquerading as clean energy in Humboldt’s power mix. Redwood Coast Energy Authority has pledged to supply us with a hundred percent clean energy by 2025 but has extended its contract for biomass electricity—dirtier and more carbon-intensive than coal—to 2031.

Humboldt Coalition for Clean Energy is sponsoring a presentation to educate the public about this issue. Topics include what state and federal regulations apply to biomass electricity; how Scotia’s biomass plant’s emissions—carbon, particulate, and toxic pollutants—compare to the emissions of other power plants, including other biomass plants; and what the alternatives are to this situation.

The presenter will be Dr. Wendy Ring, a physician and public health professional who has researched Humboldt Sawmill Company’s emissions and environmental compliance for more than a year. To sign up for the Zoom presentation at 7 PM on February 12, click here. For the same time on February 15, click here. And here is the link for February 27 (same time).

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Humboldt finally got the $2.7 million grant it needs to convert the old Eureka Recycling Center into an organic waste tipping floor. This will be the first stop for the county’s organic waste—food scraps, green waste, paper, wood and other compostables–as mandated by the state. SB 1383 frowns upon this material going to landfills, and so does 350 Humboldt. Organic material rotting under landfill conditions emits the super climate pollutant, methane.

Humboldt Waste Management Authority hopes that the conversion will be complete by July of this year. When the organic waste material leaves the processing center it will be shipped to an out-of-county recycling facility. Many county officials charged with dealing with our solid waste hope that eventually we will have our own composting facility. Meanwhile, the county must buy tons of finished compost every year as part of its compliance with 1383.

Another component of the law is to divert 20% of still edible food from getting tossed in the garbage to begin with. Restaurants, cafeteria, grocery stores and others are required to participate in this effort to prevent food waste and distribute such food to people who need it. A lot of regulatory and logistical planning is going into this huge shift.

What will compliance with SB 1383 look like to us regular people with our differently colored bins that the haulers pick up once a week? There will be changes, including rate hikes.

Getting everything together to comply with such a far-reaching and multi-faceted law has been a challenge for our rural county, and Humboldt got a late start. We’ve missed the deadline by two years. 125 other jurisdictions within the county are also not compliant yet. An independent state commission has questioned if SB 1383 is the best way to approach the problem of landfill methane in rural counties such as ours.

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Humboldt Transit Authority is chugging towards its ambitious vision of public transit. One day we will be able to hop on a zero-emissions bus and ride across the county line in every direction (well, not west) for a lot less money than Greyhound charges. Connections with other transit services will give access to national and state parks, tribal lands, other areas of the far-flung North Coast and beyond.

Though it’s too early for the ZEVs yet, you can now ride a regular old diesel bus all the way to Ukiah on Mondays through Fridays. This new route from Eureka to Ukiah began mid-January. A connection to Santa Rosa will probably be available by the end of February. The fare to Ukiah is $2 one way—a mind-boggling deal that may last as long as six months. How much it will cost then will be affected by different factors, so hasn’t been decided yet.

HTA has been pulling in one grant after another to build its future ZEV fleet and fueling infrastructure. Both battery electric buses and hydrogen fuel cell buses will be deployed. The HFCBs will be reserved for the longest routes with the steepest grades. The first one is due in December of this year and may take the Ukiah route. Ten more are planned for, plus ten battery EVs.

Click here to read the results of a LOCO poll of Humboldt residents’ reaction to the new route.

The Harbor District unanimously passed a resolution on January 11th to make plans for a heavy-lift marine terminal proposed for the Samoa Peninsula a state-of-the-art, zero-emissions facility. As the onshore support facility for the coming offshore wind farm it should operate as sustainably and cleanly as possible. However, after the applause died down, Harbor Commissioner Greg Dale reminded everyone in the packed conference room that a resolution “means absolutely nothing . . . It has no power . . . We as a board are putting together a document which will have power . . . but it’s your job to hold us accountable for that.”

Fortunately, there’s money on tap for building a state-of-the-art green terminal. The U.S. Department of Transportation recently awarded the Harbor District $426,719,810. Senator Jared Huffman, who was instrumental in swinging this grant, jubilantly proclaimed it “the biggest federal investment in this region in fifty years.” Private industry is supposed to match those funds. Crowley Wind Services will almost certainly be the builder though the company has not yet finalized a memorandum of agreement with the District. Construction is slated to start sometime in 2026 with the goal of completion in three years.

Wind power developer, RWE, met with 350 Humboldt to talk about its draft Community Benefit Agreement. Thirty percent of their bid—almost $158 million—will be reserved for measures that benefit our local economy. Most of that will go towards workforce training and establishing a supply chain. Ten percent is devoted to projects designed to mitigate any adverse impacts on fisherfolk, tribes, and other community members. Funds are also budgeted for donations to community programs such as Food for People.

The other developer, Vineyard Wind, which already has an office in Eureka, is also working on its CBA. It already has experience negotiating the first offshore wind CBA in the country from their project at Martha’s Vineyard on the east coast. CBAs are not mandatory for developers, but developers often volunteer to pursue them in order to have good community relationships. The final form of a CBA must be submitted to BOEM before the developer submits its first Facility Design Report. That will probably occur in six to seven years.

Actual construction of the turbines is not likely to start for ten years.

Senator Huffman

Andrew Goff


The California Coastal Commission rejected 350 Humboldt’s appeals of the Local Coastal Permit for Nordic Aquafarm’s proposed land-based facility on the Samoa Peninsula. We argued that Nordic’s proposed mitigations of the project’s greenhouse gas emissions fell far short.

Because of inherent restrictions of the appeals process, the CCC could only consider if Nordic’s EIR is inconsistent with Humboldt County’s Local Coastal Plan. Unfortunately, the LCP was created in the early 80s and doesn’t mention greenhouse gas impacts at all. The county is working on updating it.

The mitigations proposed in the FEIR for the Aquafarm do not cover the greenhouse emissions entailed by producing the fish feed that will be used. Also problematic is Nordic’s unwillingness to commit to using refrigerants with minimum globalwarming potential. A third objection concerned inadequate mitigation for the estimated electricity usage of 125 Gwhrs. The proposed annual Renewable Energy Certificates only match up to roughly half of the actual draw, resulting in more than 25,000 metric tons of unmitigated CO2.

350 Humboldt also pointed out the conflict between the electricity needs of the proposed aquafarm and the proposed marine terminal. Nordic’s usage would double the amount of electricity used by Eureka. The prospect of such a massive draw comes at the same time we are looking at the development of the heavy-lift marine terminal. Environmental groups have pushed for an all-electric operation, and the Harbor District has agreed in theory. However, due to Humboldt’s transmission constraints and limited local generation, we have no reason to take our power supply for granted. Rob Holmlund of the Harbor District commented during a public forum last summer that enough electricity might not be available for an all-electric terminal. A big wind farm could remedy that shortage, but completion of the wind terminal must come first.

Sometime during the next few months, the Coastal Commission will consider the Harbor District’s application for a permit for Nordic Aquafarm to take the water it needs from the bay. Humboldt Waterkeeper and other organizations argue that the water should come from the ocean, not the bay. This permit is the last major permit required for Nordic.


350 Humbldt Activities

The outreach committee will meet in February on the 5th at 4 PM. If you’re a member of 350 Humboldt who is interested in attending, contact Nancy Ihara for a zoom link and more information. [email protected]

The book club will meet Feb. 26 to discuss Our Fragile Moment: How Lessons from Earth’s Past Can Help Us Survive the Climate Crisis, by Michael Mann. Everyone is welcome even if you haven’t read the book.

Our bus adventure organizer is on sabbatical. Email us ([email protected]) if you like a good logistical challenge and want to try your hand at it. Here is the handbook she thoughtfully provided.

350 Humboldt is loosely affiliated with the international organization,, which is active in North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Turkey, Africa, and the Pacific islands. In the US there are 114 individual 350 affiliates. The ten largest make up the Network Council, which employs ten people as staff for the North American organization. The number 350 refers to the original goal of keeping CO2 to no more than 350 parts per million in order to prevent climate change. The world’s atmosphere is now at 416.

Bonus News—pretty good this month except for the world running out of water

The Nordic Aquafarm couple who first came to Humboldt has moved on and downsized.

Birds may be smarter than we think when it comes to wind turbines

More hopeful news for EV battery storage

The insurance industry abandons climate change skepticism

Large-scale mapping of global ground water levels

Bonus bonus News—last minute information

A 2024 Super State Strategy maps a path towards preventing a disastrous Republican victory this November.