Two Cheers for Approval of New Desalination Plant in Orange County

California should put an end to the Coastal Commission

The California Coastal Commission (CCC) has approved the Doheny Ocean Desalination Plant in Orange County. As the California Globe reports, the new plant will produce five million gallons a day for the South Coast Water District, “reducing the freshwater burden for a large swath of Orange County.” Such approval, in a drought-stricken state, is the exception rather than the rule.

As the Globe explains, in May the CCC rejected the Poseidon desalination plant in Huntington Beach that had been in progress for nearly 20 years. That project was supported by a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, Governor Gavin Newsom, and approved by an appellate court ruling. As we noted, that plant would have provided 50 million gallons of fresh water per day.

“The ocean is under attack from climate change already,” proclaimed Coastal Commissioner Dayna Bochco at the rejection announcement. If Californians thought Dayna Bochco was a climate scientist or hydrologist they would be wrong.

Commissioner Bochco is an entertainment lawyer and president of Steven Bochco Productions, producer of “Doogie Howser M.D,” “Cop Rock” and other television shows. A drama and English major at UC Berkeley, Dayna Bochco has something in common with the Commission’s 12 voting members. Not a single one was elected by the people of California.

The California Coastal Commission is an unelected body, appointed by politicians, that overrides dozens of elected city and county governments on land-use and environmental issues. The CCC also has a history of running roughshod over property rights. Commissioner Mark Nathanson served prison time for extorting bribes from Hollywood celebrities and others seeking coastal building permits.

The elected representatives of the people are perfectly capable of making decisions on land use and the desalination plants the state so desperately needs. The approval of the Doheny plant, which will start producing fresh water by 2027, does not override CCC rejection of other desalination projects. The Commission should reverse its decision on the Poseidon plant in Huntington Beach, and legislators have a role to play.

No state needs a body of unelected bureaucrats who put politics and junk science above the basic needs of the people. At the first opportunity, California should put an end to the Coastal Commission. This long overdue move would eliminate much government waste, fraud and abuse, and put the Golden State at the forefront of meaningful change.

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
Beacon Posts by K. Lloyd Billingsley | Full Biography and Publications
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