For Immediate Release
Tuesday, February 22, 2022
Stop Poseidon Coalition Calls Foul on Corporate Polluter Brookfield-Poseidon’s Greenwashing, Memorandum of Understanding with Conflict-afflicted Orange County Power Authority
LOS ANGELES, CA (February 22, 2022) – The following is a joint statement from Andrea Leon-Grossmann, climate action director of Azul, a California-based Latinx environmental justice organization working to protect the ocean and coasts, and Ray Hiemstra, associate director of Orange County Coastkeeper, an advocacy organization working to protect and promote sustainable water resources.
Together, members of the Stop Poseidon coalition are calling out Brookfield-Poseidon’s public deception campaign, which today hits an all-time high, as Brookfield-Poseidon seeks to gain attention with news of a partnership with Orange County Power Authority – in an attempt to reinvent itself falsely as a “100 percent renewable energy” seawater desalination option in California’s Huntington Beach Community.
“All that Brookfield-Poseidon is promising is to ‘work toward’ 100 percent clean energy – if they’re being honest, they will commit to only using 100 percent clean fuels and steer clear of carbon fuels that exacerbate the climate crisis,” said Andrea Leon-Grossmann, Director of Climate Action of Azul. “They’ll also have no problem accepting a requirement to their permit that guarantees this commitment and identifying a contractual obligation when they go before the California Coastal Commission on March 17th, 2022 – anything less is a ruse.”
“Seawater desalination requires more energy to produce a gallon of water than any other source – what Brookfield-Poseidon is doing is deceiving the public from the environmental disaster this project would be – one that requires high electricity usage for 50 years and guarantees excessive energy that fuels greenhouse gas emissions and the climate crisis,” Leon-Grossmann said.
“Brookfield-Poseidon fails to detail any connection to the Orange County Power Authority in its 3,000-page application that is presently under permitting review before the California Coastal Commission,” said Ray Hiemstra, associate director of program for Orange County Coastkeeper. “Brookfield-Poseidon and the Orange County Power Authority’s efforts to categorize this project as being a world-class renewable effort is flawed – read the fine print, it is based on false carbon offsets, a scheme that profits polluters and hurts local residents and taxpayers. It is fitting Brookfield-Poseidon looks to team up with an agency that has been embroiled in controversy since its inception and has major conflicts of interests.”
The plant would utilize decade’s old technology to deliver water and would be located next to the AES Huntington Beach plant, formerly known as Applied Energy Services, a gas-fired power station that backs up to Huntington Beach State Park, and is adjacent to the Ascon toxic dump, a 38-acre Superfund site. Superfund sites contain hazardous waste and are some of the dirtiest, most polluted locations that are listed on National Priority Lists, requiring long-term clean up and remediation responses.
“Unfortunately for Brookfield-Poseidon, the permit application which sits before the California Coastal Commission tells a very different story – one of a company looking to use antiquated, climate change-inducing technologies, carbon offsets to pay-to-poison, along with outdated scientific data to privatize water at excessive rates into perpetuity, in an area with increased risk of sea level rise,” the Stop Poseidon coalition said.
Deceptive, desperate practices and greenwashing are already on center stage in Orange County as the $650 billion-dollar private Brookfield Asset Management and its subsidiary, Poseidon Water, seek taxpayer dollars to build a desalination plant in Huntington Beach which would raise water rates for residents while withdrawing 106 million gallons out of the ocean every day for the next 50 years, killing marine life upon intake.
The California Coastal Commission will consider a key permit for the desalination project on March 17, 2022.
The proposed Brookfield-Poseidon plant would be susceptible to sea level rise and flooding, as the coalition unveiled on February 11th, in a science-based virtual simulation, publicly available here, before the California Coastal Commission. It depicts the grave dangers of permitting the Brookfield-Poseidon Huntington Beach Desalination Plant, as extreme weather, and the climate crisis will affect the proposed location of the Brookfield-Poseidon desalination plant and city-at-large within the next 20 to 50 years.
The film and accompanying simulations technology tools, designed utilizing existing scientific data and modeling, were developed by independent scientists at Virtual Planet, an entity known for its immersive solutions to communicate climate change through virtual reality to advise agencies, local governments and the public in sea level rise planning.
The tale of San Diego County’s excessively high water rates at the hands of Poseidon Water, also should not be replicated in another county, now knowing its implications.
In September 2021, two of the coalition members – the California Coastkeeper Alliance and Orange County Coastkeeper – filed a lawsuit against the Santa Ana Regional Water Board for failing to adhere to the state’s Ocean Desalination Policy requirements when it authorized the construction of the Huntington Beach Desalination Plant by Brookfield Poseidon Resources LLC in April.
Another critical step for Brookfield-Poseidon to obtain the resources for the unnecessary plant lies in its ability to secure public bonds from the California Debt Limit Allocation Committee (CDLAC). The private entity is trying to secure $1.1B in tax exempt bonds to fund the project and other public subsidies. These CDLAC bonds come from a pool of dollars explicitly intended for affordable housing.
The Stop Poseidon coalition released a January 19 statement urging the California Debt Limit Allocation Committee (CDLAC) to reject all requested funding to Brookfield Poseidon. The Los Angeles Times and the Orange County Register have both agreed that CDLAC should not award Brookfield Poseidon with public funds intended for affordable housing. While CDLAC theoretically limited the amount of Brookfield Poseidon could obtain via the exempt facilities pool, a final decision will not be made until the Spring when private activity bond allocations for specific projects are finalized.
These bonds come from a pool of dollars explicitly intended for affordable housing. The Stop Poseidon coalition released a January 19 statement urging the California Debt Limit Allocation Committee (CDLAC) to reject all requested funding to Brookfield Poseidon. The Los Angeles Times and the Orange County Register have both agreed that CDLAC should not grant Brookfield Poseidon with public funds.
In December 2021, CDLAC conducted a meeting to discuss allocating funds per designated ‘pools’ such as affordable housing, exempt facilities, and infrastructure. The Stop Poseidon coalition testified in opposition to the $1.1B in bonds Poseidon seeks to gain from the exempt facilities pool, which would have significantly reduced the total pool available for affordable housing projects across the state by roughly 25 percent.
The coalition believes that:
- Poseidon’s parent company, Brookfield Asset Management is a $650 billion dollar global private-equity corporation, which can finance their own projects without tapping into CDLAC public funds.
- California has a housing affordability crisis, and we must build as many affordable housing units as possible and not distribute funds to privatize water.
- The California Pollution Control Financing Authority is supposed to allocate bonds to decontaminate sites for affordable housing or to clean polluted waterways, not give those bonds to a polluter that would discharge 50 million gallons of toxic brine and chemicals into the ocean daily for the next 50 years.
- Any allocations that go to exempt projects like Poseidon mean the state will lose the substantial tax credits that are provided by the federal government for affordable housing. Allocating $1.1 billion to Poseidon would mean that the state could potentially lose over $2 billion in funds for affordable housing.
About the Stop Poseidon Coalition
AZUL: Azul is a grassroots organization working with Latinxs to conserve coasts and oceans. It was founded in 2011 to bring Latinxs perspectives and participation to ocean conservation and has long advocated for environmental justice and equity in the state of California, across the nation and at international levels.
CALIFORNIA COASTKEEPER ALLIANCE: California Coastkeeper Alliance represents watershed-focused California Waterkeepers as they fight for drinkable, swimmable, fishable waters for all Californians. It defends and expands California’s protective legislation and strengthens the function of our State Water Board.
CALIFORNIA COASTAL PROTECTION NETWORK: CCPN works to uphold the core tenets of the California Coastal Act actively and effectively through policy, advocacy, and collaboration. We accomplish our mission by providing strong leadership to advance California’s 40-year legacy of coastal protection.
ORANGE COUNTY COASTKEEPER: Founded in 1999, the mission of Coastkeeper is to protect and promote sustainable water resources that are swimmable, drinkable, and fishable for present and future generations. Orange County Coastkeeper is a member of the International Waterkeeper Alliance, which has 236 different independent programs across 29 countries.
SUNRISE MOVEMENT LA: Sunrise is a movement of young activists uniting to solve the climate crisis.
SURFRIDER FOUNDATION: The Surfrider Foundation is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves and beaches, for all people, through a powerful activist network.
For more information, please visit the California Desal Facts website.