January Hearing Report

From ActCoastal

By ActCoastal | Published 2017/02/22

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Commentary is provided by ActCoastal partners.

This blog represents the views of the authors, and does not necessarily reflect the positions of ActCoastal and its partner organizations.

January Coastal Commission Report

The January Coastal Commission hearing felt a little lighter than usual. Nonetheless, several important items came before the Commission, most notably, Poseidon Resource, LLC’s request for a permit fee waiver for their Huntington Beach desalination proposal. The Commission panel was also down one commissioner, Wendy Mitchell resigned her post after six years.

Item F 7a was a request by Poseidon Resources (Surfside), LLC asking to waive application fees for the resubmittal of their Huntington Beach Desalination Plant coastal development permit (CDP). At the hearing, Coastal Commission staff summarized the saga associated with this project: Since the early 2000s, Poseidon has tried to fast-track the necessary permits needed to construct and operate a proposed seawater desalination facility in the City of Huntington Beach.

This is one more in a long string of Poseidon’s attempts to subvert state and local permit review. Their efforts to undermine the process have resulted in long delays and an inordinate amount of public resources. They’ve blatantly ignored staff direction, attempted to evade environmental review and pressured agencies to “streamline” the review process in an effort to build momentum for the project without proper review. It is clear that the driving concern for Poseidon and its parent company, Brookfield Infrastructure - a $250B global conglomerate - is profits - at the expense of our coast.

It is extremely important that state agencies complete a full and thorough analysis of desalination plants, as required in the State Water Board’s new Ocean Plan amendment and the Coastal Act. There are several desalination plant proposals throughout the state that taking note as to how this application is reviewed as the first under the new Ocean Plan regulations. Desalination plants as a new water supply paradigm has profound implications for the California coast including impacts to environmentally sensitive habitat, marine life, coastal access and climate change.

Fortunately, the Coastal Commission denied the permit fee waiver, and in doing so sent a message to Poseidon that they intend to closely review the project and for that, we commend them. Next on the horizon for Poseidon is the State Lands Commission’s draft supplemental environmental impact review, which is expected out in the first quarter of 2017. ActCoastal plans to track this closely and will provide further updates.

You can read last month's full meeting report here. Don't forget to check the Vote Chart for a breakdown January's key conservation vote.

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