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    HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (AP) — California officials have nixed a proposal for a $1.4 billion desalination plant but say they’re open to growing the state’s capacity to turn Pacific Ocean seawater into drinking water to buffer against persistent drought. After an hours-long hearing, members of a state coastal panel on Thursday unanimously rejected a proposed desalination plant for Southern California over concerns the facility would kill marine life and drive up the cost of water. The vote by the California Coastal Commission, which is tasked with protecting the state’s scenic shoreline, dealt a blow to the long-running proposal by Brookfield Infrastructure Partners-owned Poseidon Water. The plan had the backing of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in his push to combat drought conditions plaguing the state, which are expected to worsen with climate change. But commissioners weren’t convinced and said the plant would damage marine ecosystems and make water too pricey in an area of California that has other cheaper and more environmentally sound water sources including a renowned wastewater recycling program. “Our decision today is not about desal generally on the...
    HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- A state panel has rejected final approval of a controversial desalination plant in Huntington Beach, a project that had been in the works for two decades.The California Coastal Commission on Thursday voted unanimously against approving a permit for a Poseidon Water desalination facility, which would've been built near the Pacific Coast Highway and Magnolia Street.Poseidon Water said the project would've provided 50 million gallons of drinking water for Orange County residents every day by using reverse osmosis to remove the salt from ocean water.As the leader of a state under severe drought, Gov. Gavin Newsom supported the project. But at Thursday's commission meeting, many spoke out against it."This is one of the worst project locations that desal could happen in the entire state," one person said before the commission.Some environmental groups said it would harm the ocean and marine life, while some on the commission felt alternate plans would be better."Orange County has since been remarkably successful in developing additional supplies of water, most notably through its groundwater replenishment system which provides more than 100...
    By Amy Taxin | Associated Press HUNTINGTON BEACH — A California coastal panel on Wednesday rejected a long-standing proposal to build a $1.4 billion seawater desalination plant to turn Pacific Ocean water into drinking water as the state grapples with persistent drought that is expected to worsen in coming years with climate change. The state’s Coastal Commission voted unanimously to deny a permit for Poseidon Water to build a plant to produce 50 million gallons of water a day in Huntington Beach, southeast of Los Angeles. Poseidon said it was disappointed in the decision. “California continues to face a punishing drought, with no end in sight,” a company statement said. “Every day, we see new calls for conservation as reservoir levels drop to dangerous lows. We firmly believe that this desalination project would have created a sustainable, drought-tolerant source of water.” The vote came after a heated meeting before the commission attended by dozens of supporters and critics of the plan. It was considered a crucial decision on the future of the plant after years of other hearings and delays....
    After hearing hours of heated debate, the California Coastal Commission voted against a controversial plan by the company Poseidon Water to build a huge desalination plant in Huntington Beach. Despite worsening drought and repeated calls from Gov. Gavin Newsom to tap the Pacific Ocean as a source of drinking water, commissioners voted unanimously against the plan on Thursday night. The decision, which was recommended by commission staff, may end the company’s plans for the $1.4 billion plant. In denying Poseidon a permit, the commission demonstrated its independence from the Newsom administration and also sent the message that high costs, vocal opposition and hazards such as sea-level rise can present major hurdles for large desalination plants on the California coast. The governor had said California needs the desalination plant to cope with extreme drought, and recently warned that a vote against the project would be a “big mistake.” Activists, who called the proposal a boondoggle that would privatize water infrastructure for profit, said the decision was a victory for fact-based regulation over politics. The project was first proposed more than two...
    A state panel on Thursday is expected to consider final approval of a controversial desalination plant in Huntington Beach, a project that has been in the works for two decades.The California Coastal Commission is set to vote on a permit for a Poseidon Water seawater desalination facility at a scheduled meeting.However, some environmental justice, coastal and ocean groups oppose the project.Lydia Ponce, climate justice director for Society of Native Nations said, "We are here as indigenous people to defend, to honor and protect our oceans."Ray Hiemstra with Orange County Coastkeeper which advocates from people's right to clean water said, "Building a desalination plant so that you can continue to hose down driveways and have lavish water wasting landscapes; that's just not California and it's not right."Andrea León Grossmann, climate action director for Azul said, they're asking the commission to deny the permit because they said it will pollute the ocean and kill millions of sea life.She said, "It's all basically being proposed by a private equity firm, a foreign private equity firm, just trying to privatize water."Poseidon Water said their...
    Los Angeles (CNN)As California battles a historic drought and a water crisis looms, the state's coastline protection agency is poised to vote Thursday on whether it will allow a $1.4 billion desalinization plant in Huntington Beach that would convert ocean water into municipal water for Orange County residents.Poseidon Water, which has been trying to build the plant for decades, says it would be capable of producing up to 50 million gallons of drinking water a day, helping to make the region more drought resilient. But desalination opponents argue less expensive and less harmful conservation tactics should be the first resort.The Wests megadroughtCalifornia's two largest reservoirs are already at 'critically low levels' and the dry season is just starting More human remains were discovered at Lake Mead as the reservoir's water level plunges Why the Great American Lawn is terrible for the West's water crisis This critical reservoir has fallen to an unfathomable low, exposing an original 1971 water intake valve The Colorado River irrigates farms, powers electric grids and provides drinking water for 40 million people. As its supply dwindles,...
    HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (AP) — For more than two decades, California’s Orange County has debated whether to build a seaside plant to convert the Pacific Ocean’s salt water into drinking water in hopes of buffering against droughts like the one now gripping the nation’s most populous state. Now, the $1.4 billion proposal by Poseidon Water faces a critical review Thursday by the California Coastal Commission, which is tasked with protecting California’s scenic shores. Poseidon and its supporters, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, contend the Huntington Beach plant will produce 50 million gallons of water a day that are crucial to help weather cutbacks on state and federal water supplies following years of drought. Newsom, a Democrat, recently told the Bay Area News Group editorial board that a denial would be a “big setback” and “we need more tools in the damn tool kit” to address drought. But environmental groups and the Coastal Commission’s staff, which reviewed the plan, oppose it. They argue it will damage marine life by killing tiny organisms that form the base of the ocean’s food web....
    Gov. Gavin Newsom has weighed in again. He supports the massive Huntington Beach desalination plant that comes up for a vote Thursday before the Coastal Commission. I’ve weighed in, too. It’s a really, really bad idea, as I explained in December. Let’s start with what Newsom had to say about the controversial project, which has been on the drawing board for years. “We need more tools in the damn toolkit,” Newsom told the Bay Area News Group editorial board in late April, doubling down on his earlier support. “We are as dumb as we want to be. What more evidence do you need that you need to have more tools in the toolkit than what we’ve experienced? Seven out of the last 10 years have been severe drought.” The governor is not entirely wrong. We do need more tools to fight drought, a catastrophic threat to the state that could soon force drastic cutbacks in water use. And we are as dumb as we want to be. So let me now lay out five reasons this is a dumb idea,...
    Associated Press HUNTINGTON BEACH — A report issued Monday urges a California coastal panel to deny a proposal to build a $1.4 billion desalination plant that would draw on the ocean to expand water sources in Southern California. Staff for the California Coastal Commission recommended the panel reject Poseidon Water ‘s proposal to build the 50 million gallon-a-day facility Huntington Beach. The project is up for discussion before the panel on May 12. “This project raises significant and complex coastal protection policy issues,” staff wrote in the report, “including conformity with policies that require protection of marine life, water quality, environmentally sensitive habitat areas, and policies meant to avoid or minimize hazards associated with sea level rise, floods, tsunamis, and geologic hazards.” The staff also wrote that the proposal raises “significant issues” about potential impacts on environmental justice communities. It also lacks, however, details about who would ultimately buy Poseidon’s water and at what cost, the report states. Poseidon Water said it believed the commission staff erred in its recommendation. “No water infrastructure project in the state of California has...
    Staff of the California Coastal Commission have recommended that a proposed desalination project in Orange County be rejected ahead of a deciding vote on May 12, despite urgent water needs highlighted by an ongoing drought in the region. The Orange County Register noted on Monday that a staff report advised against allowing the company, Poseidon Water, to built a desalination plant in Huntington Beach, despite the success of similar plants in nearby San Diego and Santa Barbara: Citing a range of economic and social factors, including environmental damages from the proposed plant and the company’s track record for slow-walking environmental projects that would offset harm caused by its existing desalination plant in Carlsbad, the staff recommended that the commissioners vote against approving the project May 12 when they hold a public hearing in Costa Mesa. … With drought conditions now a new normal in California – and water supplies expected to grow tighter in coming decades – many view desalination as an expensive but necessary option to meet future needs. Also, many on the 12-member commission were appointed to their roles...
    HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (AP) — A report issued Monday urges a California coastal panel to deny a proposal to build a $1.4 billion desalination plant that would draw on the ocean to expand water sources in Southern California. Staff for the California Coastal Commission recommended the panel reject Poseidon Water ‘s proposal to build the 50 million gallon-a-day facility Huntington Beach. The project is up for discussion before the panel on May 12. “This project raises significant and complex coastal protection policy issues,” staff wrote in the report, “including conformity with policies that require protection of marine life, water quality, environmentally sensitive habitat areas, and policies meant to avoid or minimize hazards associated with sea level rise, floods, tsunamis, and geologic hazards.” The staff also wrote that the proposal raises “significant issues” about potential impacts on environmental justice communities. It also lacks, however, details about who would ultimately buy Poseidon’s water and at what cost, the report states. The proposal has been touted by some in California’s Orange County as an alternative to the long-running drought and a way to...
    We all know we’re in the midst of a terrible drought in California. And we all know we’ve got an 1,100-mile coastline. Is desalination the answer to our problems? No. It comes after water conservation and recycling, and is just one tool among many that might prevent the state from going dry. But not all desalination plants are created equally, nor do all of them maximize environmental protection. And there may be no more controversial project than the one proposed for Huntington Beach. If we know anything by now about Poseidon Water, whose parent is a Canadian company that controls $650 billion in assets globally, it’s that these people are not shy about asking for public financial incentives to build desalination plants in California. It happened with the company’s Carlsbad plant, to the tune of several hundred million dollars, and it’s happening in Huntington Beach. Climate & Environment Questions linger about environmental impact of Poseidon plant Water board debates how and when Poseidon should offset the environmental harm of its proposed Huntington Beach seawater desalination plant. ...
    Poseidon Water won a key approval Thursday in its long quest to build a seawater desalination plant on the Orange County coastline. But the permit from the Santa Ana Regional Quality Control Board does not ensure that the $1-billion ocean desalter will rise on the grounds of an old power plant in Huntington Beach. Poseidon still needs a construction permit from the California Coastal Commission and, most critically, a binding deal with a public agency to buy 50 million gallons a day of purified seawater. The board’s consideration of the Poseidon proposal has stretched over years, touching on questions of harm to the marine environment, need for the supply and its cost. Those issues arose again during Thursday’s virtual hearing. But most of the board’s discussion dealt with how it could make sure Poseidon carries out required environmental mitigation projects in a timely fashion. Climate & Environment Newsom pushes private seawater desalting plant over local and environmental opposition Climate & Environment Newsom pushes private seawater desalting plant over local and environmental opposition ...
    Every year that it converts a bit of the Pacific Ocean into drinking water, the proposed Huntington Beach desalination plant would kill tiny marine life crucial to the sea’s food web. Questions of how and when to offset that environmental harm remain unresolved in regulators’ ongoing review of Poseidon Water’s plans to build a $1-billion desalting plant on the Orange County coastline. After a nearly nine-month pause, the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board last week resumed consideration of the project, which has been clouded by complaints that it is benefiting from political interference by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration. The board reopened its Poseidon proceedings Friday with statements by three members who rejected opponents’ demands that they recuse themselves in the wake of February disclosures that they had been contacted by a high-ranking administration official during project hearings in the summer. Board Chair Lana Peterson, Vice Chair Kris Murray and member Joe Kerr said Environmental Protection Secretary Jared Blumenfeld had not tried to sway their votes nor discussed details of the proposal in his text messages and phone...
    With all that’s been going on in California during the pandemic, it’s been difficult at times to keep track of the latest state-sponsored debacles. You’d need a scorecard, a good set of reading glasses and a special prosecutor to stay on top of it all. The botched vaccine rollout, mixed messaging and delivery inequities are enough to keep anyone busy. And when the state introduced the My Turn vaccination scheduling system, which was supposed to straighten things out, nobody was surprised to learn that it’s full of bugs, or that people of means managed to get vaccinations intended for low-income communities hardest hit by COVID-19. On top of that, we’ve had one of the greatest boondoggles in state history, with billions of dollars scammed from the Employment Development Department by prison inmates and others, while needy, out-of-work people were left penniless and waiting for months to get hold of anyone in Sacramento who might help. And so it was easy to miss a development that flew under the radar in recent months, until my colleague Bettina Boxall laid out the...
    When Gov. Gavin Newsom was photographed dining at an opulent Napa Valley restaurant during a surge in coronavirus cases, many Californians saw it as hypocrisy. For opponents of a planned $1-billion desalination plant along the Orange County coast, however, the optics were menacing. The unmasked Newsom was celebrating the birthday of a lobbyist for Poseidon Water, which is close to obtaining final government approval for one of the country’s biggest seawater desalination plants. Poseidon boasts that the facility will provide a local, inexhaustible source of water for Southern California. Critics complain that Newsom and his political appointees are exerting heavy influence to benefit a private company that would produce some of the state’s most expensive supplies. Emails obtained by The Times and the environmental group California Coastkeeper Alliance through the state Public Records Act indicate that top California Environmental Protection Agency officials have been involved in a water board’s review of the complex proposal. In addition, Newsom took the unusual step of replacing a Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board member who was highly critical of the...
    As Poseidon Water pursues the final government approvals needed to build one of the country’s biggest seawater desalination plants, the company still cannot definitively say who will buy the 50 million gallons a day of drinking water it wants to produce on the Orange County coast. That’s one of several questions that continue to dog the $1-billion Huntington Beach project as Poseidon tries to seal an iron-clad deal more than two decades after it first proposed the ocean desalter. During two long days of online hearings last week, members of a regional board that is about to vote on a key Poseidon permit challenged proponents on a number of fronts. They wondered whether Orange County needs the costly supply. They questioned the use of 17-year-old data in gauging the plant’s potential harm to marine life. And they expressed doubts about whether Poseidon’s wetland restoration plans meet state environmental requirements to offset that harm. While it is doubtful that the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board will deny the permit when it continues the hearing Friday, the panel’s skepticism...
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