September 2020 Action: Ocean-Cooled Power Plants
In 2010, the California State Water Resources Control Board ordered four aging and inefficient gas-fired power plants along the SoCal coast to stop using the environmentally damaging practice of ocean water cooling by December 31, 2020. This order would force the plants to close or undertake expensive updates. However, the California Public Utilities Commission requested an extension last year citing system-wide grid reliability concerns.
The PUC, utilities like SoCal Edison, and power companies have spent the past ten years delaying the inevitable, and now they are using the recent blackouts as an excuse to ask for three more years to delay action.
The blackouts were caused by a climate change-induced heat wave and poor planning by the state regulators. What’s needed is not further delay, but the opposite: better demand response planning, energy conservation, and a faster transition to clean alternatives like solar and battery storage. An extension for these plants would send the wrong message — that delay is acceptable.
The State Water Board is now weighing a three-year extension for three of the plants (in Huntington Beach, Long Beach, and Oxnard) and a one-year extension for the Redondo Beach plant. The vote is on Tuesday, September 1. Governor Newsom can weigh in with his appointees to shut the plants down as scheduled.
August 2020 Update: Culver City Considering Oil Drilling Phase Out
This Thursday, August 13, at 6pm, Culver City is having a special (online) meeting to review the amortization proposal for Culver City’s portion of the Inglewood Oil Field. This proposal would phase out oil drilling in the city completely. You can stream the meeting online or attend via Webex (registration required in advance). Click here for instructions and more info.
[8/13 Update – the council voted 5-0 to move forward with the Amortization proposal.]
July 2020 Action: LA County Oil Well Ordinance
September 23. Deadline for written comments. Use our template to send a comment or follow one of the other links above for more information.
August 2020 Update: AB-345 Update – Setback for Setbacks
On Wednesday, August 5, the California State Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water held a hearing on AB-345, the bill that would have required the state to establish a buffer zone between oil/gas operations and places where people live, study, worship, or play. There is substantial research that oil drilling causes negative health effects for people living half a mile to a mile away. Ninety-two percent of the people living this close to oil wells in the state are people of color, and 85% of active wells in Los Angeles are within half a mile of homes. The bill left the details up to CalGem, the state agency in charge of regulating oil and gas operations, but it would have sent a clear signal that the legislature supports health and safety setbacks.
Unfortunately, AB-345 came up one vote short. Locally, Senator Ben Allen (Santa Monica) voted for AB-345, but Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg (D-San Fernando Valley) cast the deciding vote against the bill, stating incorrectly that the legislation “has already been acted on by this legislature” and “doesn’t achieve the problem you’re trying to solve.” In fact, while CalGem has an ongoing health and safety review of oil drilling regulations, there is no guarantee it will include a buffer zone, they have not committed to a timeline, and the process could be canceled or delayed by the Governor, who continues to approve new oil drilling and fracking permits after previously committing to a moratorium. AB-345 was designed by its author, Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-South Bay), to complement and strengthen the ongoing rulemaking.
After the hearing, AB-345 was amended further based on Senator Hertzberg’s comments during the hearing, and expected to be heard for reconsideration on August 12. However, on August 10 it was pulled from the agenda after Hertzberg and other no votes indicated they would not reconsider their positions.
While this is a disappointment, the fight for setbacks continues. A recent poll found 79% of Californians support buffer zones from oil extraction sites. The current CalGem rulemaking process continues, and tens of thousands of Californians have submitted comments to the agency in favor of 2,500-foot setbacks.
August 2020 Meeting – Tuesday 8/4
At our August meeting, special guest Andrea Leon Grossman from Azul updated us on the proposed Poseidon desalination plant in Hermosa Beach. The plant, if built, would use massive amounts of fossil fuels and kill massive amounts of marine life in order to generate water that is expensive and unnecessary. Later in the week, the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Board delayed its vote on the plant.
About the Westside Hub
SoCal 350 Climate Action is an active affiliate of the international climate change organization – 350.org. We proudly represent and advocate for communities across Southern California, but we recognize the diversity, unique needs of individual neighborhoods, and geographic challenges associated with in-person meet-ups.
With this in mind, we recently created a Westside Hub. In addition to our SoCal 350 monthly meetings and group actions, we want to make it easier for members in Westside neighborhoods in multiple cities and LA’s 11th city council district to voice ideas, glean information, and participate in campaigns and causes.
The SoCal 350 Westside Hub will focus specifically on issues impacting the ocean, beaches, and Westside neighborhoods.
Our goal is to help Southern California transition away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible while creating a more equitable society with abundant jobs, housing, and green space for all our residents.
Our launch meeting on May 5, 2020, focused on the fight to shut down all aging, dangerous, and unnecessary gas/oil storage facilities on the Westside; with Mary Beth from Protect Playa Now! providing an example of why this work is important. [Update: check out their new project, SoCalGasMakesMeSick.com]
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