Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Environmental Groups Decry Legislative Attempt to Circumvent State

AB 1570, Introduced as Veterans Affairs Bill, Now Seeks to Circumvent Coastal Commission Authority

A coalition of more than 70 local, state and national environmental and fishing groups has joined together to oppose proposed amendments to AB 1570, which seek to supersede the authority of the California Coastal Commission to protect the health of California's environment. AB 1570, originally drafted to improve social services for veterans, was amended this week to provide a special legislative extension to an existing coastal development permit (CDP) for Poseidon Resources' Carlsbad Desalination Project.

Though the bill's proposed language would apply only to Poseidon's proposed Carlsbad desalination plant, environmental groups are concerned about the precedent set by the Legislature taking away the review authority delegated to the Coastal Commission.

"Whenever you have the legislature providing special treatment to any one company, it raises a red flag for us," stated Joe Geever, California Policy Coordinator for Surfrider Foundation. "Writing law to circumvent regulatory agency review creates a slippery slope where any influential corporation can bypass longstanding environmental protections and public review."

Poseidon has indicated a need to pursue this "urgent legislation" as the company's coastal development permit was originally set to expire in November 2009, and could have become invalid if they have not begun construction at this time. However, Coastal Commission staff has indicated that Poseidon submitted an application for a permit extension in June, which has the effect of tolling the clock on the permit's expiration date. As a result of this extension application, Poseidon's permit will not expire any time soon.

"Not only will this legislation set bad precedent," added Geever, "but it is totally unnecessary to Poseidon's efforts to build their proposed plant in a way that is good for San Diego."

According to the County Water Authority, water consumption countywide plunged 21percent in June and 16 percent in July compared with the same months last year due to aggressive conservation measures. Meanwhile, the City of San Diego in partnership with local environmental groups is proceeding with a pilot project and regional assessment to determine the potential to reclaim wastewater for potable and non-potable uses.

To voice your opposition to AB 1570 click here.

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