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Residents celebrate as California Coastal Commission rejects plan for Huntington Beach desalination plant

LA Times logo LA Times 5/13/2022 Allen J. Schaben
Dressed in a plankton costume, Zoey Lambe-Hommel joins people who gathered before the start of the California Coastal Commission meeting, where the Poseidon desalination plant in Huntington Beach was on the agenda. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times) © (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times) Dressed in a plankton costume, Zoey Lambe-Hommel joins people who gathered before the start of the California Coastal Commission meeting, where the Poseidon desalination plant in Huntington Beach was on the agenda. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

After hearing hours of heated debate, the California Coastal Commission voted against a controversial plan by the company Poseidon Water to build a huge desalination plant in Huntington Beach.

Despite worsening drought and repeated calls from Gov. Gavin Newsom to tap the Pacific Ocean as a source of drinking water, commissioners voted unanimously against the plan Thursday night. The decision, which was recommended by commission staff, may end the company’s plans for the $1.4-billion plant.

In denying Poseidon a permit, the commission demonstrated its independence from the Newsom administration and also sent the message that high costs, vocal opposition and hazards such as sea-level rise can present major hurdles for large desalination plants on the California coast.

Debbie Andrews, center, of Huntington Beach, celebrates with others as the California Coastal Commission rejects a plan for Poseidon Water to build a desalination plan in Huntington Beach. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times) © (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times) Debbie Andrews, center, of Huntington Beach, celebrates with others as the California Coastal Commission rejects a plan for Poseidon Water to build a desalination plan in Huntington Beach. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times) Lydia Ponce, left, of the Mayo & Quechua Society of Native Americans, hugs Andrea Leon-Grossmann, second from left, director of climate action for the nonprofit group Azul,and Susan Jordan, right, Director at California Coastal Protection Network all celebrate the California Coastal Commission's decision. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times) © (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times) Lydia Ponce, left, of the Mayo & Quechua Society of Native Americans, hugs Andrea Leon-Grossmann, second from left, director of climate action for the nonprofit group Azul,and Susan Jordan, right, Director at California Coastal Protection Network all celebrate the California Coastal Commission's decision. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times) An aerial view of the Huntington Beach Wetlands and the Huntington Beach Energy Center, formerly AES Huntington Beach, the proposed site of the Poseidon desalination plant. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times) © (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times) An aerial view of the Huntington Beach Wetlands and the Huntington Beach Energy Center, formerly AES Huntington Beach, the proposed site of the Poseidon desalination plant. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times) A man holds a sign against the proposed Poseidon desalination project in Huntington Beach while listening to speakers at the California Coastal Commission hearing. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times) © (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times) A man holds a sign against the proposed Poseidon desalination project in Huntington Beach while listening to speakers at the California Coastal Commission hearing. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times) Audience members show their support for for a speaker against the proposed Poseidon desalination plant in Huntington Beach at the California Coastal Commission hearing in Costa Mesa. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times) © (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times) Audience members show their support for for a speaker against the proposed Poseidon desalination plant in Huntington Beach at the California Coastal Commission hearing in Costa Mesa. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times) Union workers who support Poseidon Water desalination project hold signs of support as they attend the California Coastal Commission hearing. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times) © (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times) Union workers who support Poseidon Water desalination project hold signs of support as they attend the California Coastal Commission hearing. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times) Audience members against the proposed Poseidon desalination project in Huntington Beach, listen to speakers at the California Coastal Commission hearing held in Costa Mesa. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times) © (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times) Audience members against the proposed Poseidon desalination project in Huntington Beach, listen to speakers at the California Coastal Commission hearing held in Costa Mesa. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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