Mid-drought, California Coastal Commission Rejects Desalination Plant
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The California Coastal Commission (CCC) voted Thursday to reject plans for a desalination plant in Orange County, despite the fact that the state is running out of water in the midst of a drought that has highlighted the need for new water supplies.

As Breitbart News reported last month, CCC staff had already recommended against the plant, citing various environmental concerns, though desalination’s only direct impact is the creation of ultra-salty brine that is returned to the vast Pacific Ocean.

And as Breitbart News noted in 2018, the Poseidon desalination plant in Carlsbad, California, “has provided some 43 billion gallons of water since [2015]. Its daily output can support 400,000 households, and supplies 10% of San Diego’s needs.”

In this case, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) was, perhaps surprisingly, on the side of the desalination project, but the CCC rejected the plan — patly to demonstrate that it was politically independent of the governor’s office, as the Los Angeles Times reported:

Despite worsening drought and repeated calls from Gov. Gavin Newsom to tap the Pacific Ocean as a source of drinking water, commissioners votedunanimously against the plan Thursday night. The decision, which was recommended by the commission‘s 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 he recently warned that a vote against the project would be a “big mistake.”

Activists also complained that the project meant “the privatization of water,” since a private company would profit from providing life-sustaining water to the population.

Opponents of desalination have also argued that it promotes climate change, since the technical process of reverse osmosis, through which fresh water is extracted from sea water, requires significant amounts of energy. Ultimately, the vote was unanimous, indicating that the project has no chance of revival.

Meanwhile, the state’s three-year drought continues, with no end in sight. The last drought lasted five years and was one of the worst in the state’s history. California residents are bracing for strict water restrictions to go into effect later this summer.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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