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Protect Oregon's Seafloor

07 • 19 • 2021

Protect Oregon's Seafloor

Strengthen policies that protect Oregon's seafloor and beach ecosystems as well as important recreational and other ocean/beach uses.

Success! On July 19, 2021 Governor Kate Brown signed HB 2603, a bill that strenghtens policies protecting Oregon's seafloor and beaches and establishes improved planning and coordination for undersea cables and their landing sites adjacent the ocean shore. With the rise of undersea cables that serve telecommunication landings in Oregon and the increase interest for bringing renewable energy cables ashore, there is a greater potential for conflict and an increased demand for planning. Thanks to some tremendous leadership in Salem, Oregon is now on a path to support such planning and stronger policies. More on this campaign below and on our Oregon page here.

Following an abandoned undersea cable project that left the state's nearshore and beaches vulnerable, Oregon chapters of Surfrider Foundation are advocating for statewide policy that provides environmental protection, financial assurance and longterm planning for future telecommunication projects. Surfrider worked with central coast Representative David Gomberg (D-10) to draft and sponsor legislation, HB 2603 and introduce during the 2021 legislative session.  

Drawing off of our leadership for marine spatial planning in Oregon's nearshore and experience with abandoned marine renewable energy projects, Surfrider recognizes the opportuity to apply similar lessons learned to the ever-increasing telecommunications and submarine cable projects. Many of these massive trans-pacific projects come ashore on the central Oregon coast in small beach communities like Pacific City that are both culturally and economically based on beach and ocean recreation. While in the past many of these projects in Oregon have been managed without incident or user conflict, both the recent accident in Tierra Del Mar and the siting conflicts with local residents have given our members, the broader public and coastal legislators some pause around these projects and how they are managed in the future. 

While Surfrider Foundation understands that uses of Oregon's (and many other states!) seafloor for telecommunications will only increase, like renewable energy we believe it's imperative that strong siting and environmental standards be developed to aid in longterm planning and to avoid potential negative recreational beach and ocean user impacts. Such stantards and siting processes should be incorporated into the State's Territorial Sea Plan. Additionally, based on the recent incident of abandoned equipment and the failure of the developer to notify the state, we believe it's critical to establish a statewide bonding program, administered by a state agency, such as the Department of State Lands, that will provide the state with adequate funds to undertake recovery of trash dumped in the ocean in the event of an accident like this recent one Tierra Del Mar. Oregon has provided these types of policy protections and planning for other development projects in Oregon’s ocean like renewable energy – shouldn’t we do the same for these telecommunication development projects?