Dams and Desalination – California Needs Both

When Californians can take showers, without flow restrictors, for as long as they want, and when Californians can have lawns again instead of rocks and cacti in their front yards, water infrastructure in California will once again be adequate.

When California’s farmers can get enough water to grow food, instead of watching their suddenly useless holdings of dead orchards and parched furrows get sold for next to nothing to corporate speculators and subsidized solar farm developers, water infrastructure in California will once again be adequate.

One of the difficulties in forming a coalition powerful enough to stand up to the corporate environmentalist lobby in California is the perception, widely shared among the more activist farming lobby, that desalination is more expensive than dams.

That’s not true. It depends on the desalination, and even more so, it depends on the dam.

As a baseline, consider the cost of desalination in California’s lone large scale operating plant in Carlsbad north of San Diego. The total project costs for this plant, including the related pipes to convey the desalinated water to storage reservoirs, was just over $1.0 billion. At a capacity to produce 56,000 acre feet per year, the construction cost per acre foot of annual capacity comes in just over $17,000.

When it comes to the price of desalinated water, payments on the bond that financed the construction costs form the overwhelming share of the cost per acre foot.

For example, California’s second major desalination project, the proposed plant in […] Read More

SoCal Desalination Plant Inches Towards Approval

In a rare and commendable display of political courage and common sense, California Governor Gavin Newsom has been working to finally grant permits to construct a second major seawater desalination plant on the Southern California Coast.

But don’t count on this new water source just yet. Despite clearing major hurdles, the “environmentalists” and their allies in the media are not going to quit.

In a predictably slanted hatchet job, poorly disguised as an investigative report, the Los Angeles Times is doing everything it can to derail the project. According to their February 26 article, “environmentalists” have serious concerns about the proposed plant, set to be constructed in Huntington Beach and using a similar design to one already successfully operating about 60 miles south in Carlsbad. But why are the only environmentalists used as sources for supposedly objective journalists the ones that disparage desalination?

Here are some of the problems that “environmentalists,” who purport to speak for everyone who cares about the environment, have with the proposed desalination plant in Huntington Beach. Quoting from the LA Times article:

“Though the Huntington Beach facility meets the state goal of diversifying California’s water supply, it would undermine other environmental policies. The plant would require large amounts of electricity; it would sit next to a rising sea; and it would continue the use of huge ocean intakes harmful to microscopic marine life.”

These objections are easily answered. Every drop of water that is produced by the plant is water that […] Read More

California’s Cruel Green Cramdown

A few years ago a provocative book by Rupert Darwall entitled “Green Tyranny” made the case that climate alarm is more about power and control, and less about the climate or the environment. Darwell’s reasoning, echoed today by a growing number of economists and environmentalists such as Bjorn Lomborg and Michael Shellenberger, concludes that environmental extremism, especially now that it is amped up with climate alarm, is disastrous to both the environment and the economy.

It’s actually worse than that, however, because the economic misery inflicted by extreme environmentalism only afflicts middle class and low income people. Wealthy elites are either indifferent to the costs, or make hefty profits. In America, California is ground zero for green tyranny. If Joe Biden actually manages to take office in January 2020, every state will have to contend with what Californians have endured for decades.

There’s a reason that in California it costs so much to rent an apartment, or buy a house. There’s a reason why bills for gas and electricity are so high, and why water bills are so expensive, and why sometimes water is even rationed.

The green tyrants of California explain away the punitive cost-of-living endured by ordinary residents as the result of capitalism, racism, and white oppression, or maybe they just blame Republicans. To-date, with a majority of Californians, this nonsensical, obsessive distraction still works. But it’s wearing thin. The real reason everybody in California suffers from a high cost of living is extreme environmentalism, […] Read More