Coastal Commission Ramps Up State Water Deficit

As expected, on May 12, the California Coastal Commission voted unanimously to reject the Poseidon Water desalination plant in Orange County. As the California Globe noted, the plant was “decades in the works during a time when California needs more freshwater to combat a drought in the state.” 

The plant would have provided 50 million gallons of freshwater a day. The commissioners’ reasons for rejecting the plant included salt discharge, electricity costs, and something else that is hard to quantify. 

“The ocean is under attack from climate change already,” proclaimed commissioner Dayna Bochco, a television producer and president of Steven Bochco Productions, producer of shows such as “Doogie Kamealoha M.D.,” “Doogie Howser M.D,” and “Cop Rock.” 

The Coastal Commission explains, “Dayna Bochco is an attorney and sits on the Board of environmental groups such as Heal the Bay and Natural Resources Defense Council’s Southern California Leadership Council.”

At UC Berkeley, Bochco “majored in drama and English.” Previously an attorney with Twentieth Century Fox Television and ABC, Bochco has something in common with the Coastal Commission’s 12 voting members. The people of California elected not a single one. 

Politicians appoint commission members. Commission chair Donna Brownsey was appointed by the governor, vice-chair Caryl Hart by the Assembly Speaker, and commissioner Bochco by the Senate rules committee. 

Membership in environmental groups does not confer scientific expertise on attorneys and entertainment executives. Climate change dogma is not science. Environmental tradeoffs are the rule rather than the exception. Desalination plants are proving their worth in arid regions of the world, including California

The unelected Coastal Commission overrides scores of elected city and county governments on land-use issues. Commission founder Peter Douglas ran roughshod over property rights. On his watch, the Commission combined regulatory zealotry with high-level corruption. Commissioner Mark Nathanson, for example, extorted payments from Hollywood celebrities and others seeking coastal building permits. 

The California Coastal Commission has now deprived California of its biggest resource, the Pacific Ocean, as a way to solve the state’s water crisis. This is what happens when an unelected body of zealots overrides the people’s rights and most basic needs. 

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
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