This past Tuesday, the California State Lands Commission delayed final judgment on Poseidon Resources’ proposed ocean water desalination facility in Carlsbad, California.
The project, which would be the first large-scale reverse osmosis facility in California and the largest in the United States, would suck in and kill countless ocean organisms each year and consume massive amounts of energy.
Poseidon, a multinational corporation based in Connecticut, made waves prior to the hearing by proposing to use carbon offsets, energy efficiency, and other methods to eliminate the global warming impact from the plant operations.
However, their carbon-neutral claims came under fire when Poseidon Resources representatives flubbed basic questions about how they would eliminate the substantial energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions of the project.
The North County Times reported that California Lieutenant Governor and State Lands Commission Chair, John Garamendi, scolded Poseidon representatives, stating, “If you haven’t figured [it] out, I suggest you get on it quickly.”
Poseidon also failed to address other fundamental flaws in their proposal, most notably the assumption that the desalination plant will be able to use, indefinitely, the Encina Power Station’s damaging once-through-cooling water intake and discharge pipes which are already out of compliance with the Clean Water Act. In addition, Poseidon’s proposal ignores more cost-effective and less energy intensive water supply tools available to the area, including water recycling and water conservation..
The Carlsbad Desal Facility will again be on the agenda at the next State Lands Commission hearing (tentatively scheduled for December 3rd in Sacramento).
It will also come before the California Coastal Commission on November 14-16, in San Diego. Currently, the Carlsbad desalination plant is item 7a on the agenda for the November 15th hearing. To weigh in at the Coastal Commission, you can attend in person, watch the webcast, or submit comments.
For more information on ocean water desalination, see the Pacific Institute’s excellent report: “Desalination, with a Grain of Salt: A California Perspective,” Surfrider Foundation’s Seawater Desalination Issue Summary and other information from the Desal Response Group.
Gary Patton is the Executive Director of the Planning and Conservation League, a statewide, nonprofit lobbying organization. For more than thirty years, PCL has fought to develop a body of environmental laws in California that is the best in the United States. PCL staff review virtually every environmental bill that comes before the California Legislature each year. It has testified in support or opposition of thousands of bills to strengthen California’s environmental laws and fight off rollbacks of environmental protections.