Environmentalists Object to California Desalination Plan

Critics of a controversial desalination project planned for Orange County claim Governor Newsom is pressuring officials to support the plant in spite of environmental concerns.

March 1, 2021, 11:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Desalination Plant Australia

Critics of desalination plants point to high rates of electricity consumption and unknown effects on marine life as major concerns. | User:Vmenkov / Wikimedia Commons

Poseidon Water, a proposed California desalination plant with ties to Governor Newsom, is close to obtaining the last permit it needs to break ground on its facility in Orange County, reports Bettina Boxall for the Los Angeles Times. The plant, to be constructed in Huntington Beach, promises to diversify California's water sources and produce 50 million gallons fresh water each day. Critics of the project claim that the governor is exerting pressure on officials to approve the plant in spite of questions about its necessity and its potential effects on the environment.

According to state records, "during the last two years, the company paid lobbying firms a total of $839,000 to represent its interests in Sacramento. The bulk of that sum, $575,000, went to Axiom Advisors, the firm headed by longtime Newsom friend Jason Kinney, whose French Laundry birthday dinner Newsom attended." Records show that Poseidon Vice President Scott Maloni "repeatedly inserted himself" into the Regional Water Board's staff business during their deliberations on the project. Meanwhile, Governor Newsom has removed board members who opposed the desalination plant, and opponents concerned about its environmental impacts claim the moves have made it easier for the plant to gain approvals to "begin operating before all the necessary permits are obtained to mitigate the significant pollution and marine life impacts it will create."

Tuesday, February 23, 2021 in Los Angeles Times

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