Leading and learning go hand in hand

June 20, 2023
Heather Munro Mann

Oregonians pride themselves on tackling tough issues with a consensus approach – something we like to call the “Oregon Way.” That’s why so many of us were pleased to see the June 9 letter to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) from Oregon Governor Kotek, U.S. Senators Merkley and Wyden, and U.S. Congresswomen Bonamici and Hoyle requesting a pause on offshore wind energy activities.

Instead of diving head-first into what could have catastrophic impacts to our marine environment and those who depend on it, Oregon leadership is navigating a deliberate and thoughtful approach. The lure of federal subsidies or potential job creation should not outweigh due diligence and careful planning to avoid negative impacts to existing industries, like sustainable fisheries. Oregon communities depend heavily on commercial and recreational fisheries to fund a major portion of our coastal economy and there is no doubt that offshore wind energy will have impacts on existing ocean users and the marine environment.

This is not about denying the climate crisis or saying no to offshore wind energy – this is about doing things the right way – the Oregon way – to ensure that decisions on siting and even target amounts of offshore wind energy are made with full and credible information on impacts and trade-offs, not emotional rhetoric. As champions for the environment, ocean health, sustainable fisheries and food security, Governor Kotek and our federal legislators should be commended for demonstrating independent thinking and true leadership on this issue. Thank you for recognizing that while offshore wind energy may have many benefits, there also exists a heavy responsibility to understand how the decisions made will impact Oregon’s ocean food producers as well as the coastal businesses and the rural economies that depend on sustainable fisheries.

As John F. Kennedy said, “leadership and learning are indispensable to each other”  – thank you for the courage to lead and learn as we tackle the state’s energy future the “Oregon Way!”