As my colleague Leila Monroe and I recently wrote, the CA state Water Board has been under intense political pressure to gut its Policy on once-through cooling, only months after its adoption. The Water Board’s Policy sets a timeline for phasing out the use of once-through cooling at coastal power plants: an environmentally destructive and antiquated technology.
In a show of integrity, three board members (Tam Dudoc, Fran Spivey-Weber and Art Bagget) voted to reject the proposed amendments. Instead, the Water Board will follow the process in the Policy to review the timeline and any other necessary changes with the advice of state energy agencies, after close review of proposed implementation plans from power plant operators.
With the vote, the Board agreed to address Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s implementation plan first and hopefully by July 2011, rather than addressing all plans together in October, as originally planned. Political pressure from LADWP and other power plant owners will no doubt continue at the Water Board and in the legislature this year. As the process unfolds, it will be crucial for the Water Board and the state energy agencies to maintain the integrity demonstrated yesterday.