While the coasts of Southern California took some hard hits this year, the local coast also took important steps toward securing its future.
There was an oil spill in the waters off Huntington Beach, pollution generated by backlog port ships, the Hyperion sewage spill at Playa del Rey, and an extension of the life of the gas-fired Redondo Power Plant.
But other events this year have been good for the coastal environment. Approval of an offshore windmill bill would spur clean energy efforts, activists banning ranches struck a deal to buy and preserve the largest private undeveloped parcels on the Southern California coast, and lawmakers in Sacramento called for an effort to reduce plastic waste. and passed legislation to adapt to sea level. Growth.
Huntington Beach oil spill
The information continued to drip for several days, and the best news was that the October 1 oil spill off the coast of Huntington Beach was initially estimated at 130,000 gallons, but turned out to be over 25,000 gallons. Coast Guard officials believe a ship’s anchor caught and pulled a pipeline attached to an offshore oil platform. This could have weakened the pipeline, and then subsequently caused a 13-inch split to leak oil from an anchor strike or a malfunction of the exposed pipe.
The waters offshore of Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach were closed, with the final closing on October 14. Oil entered the wildlife-rich Talbert Marsh, contributing to a record number of 82 dead birds and six dead marine mammals, including Three sea lions. Fishing was banned off the coast of Orange County until November. On December 15, the US Department of Justice announced indictments related to the spill, alleging that Amplify Energy, the pipeline’s owner and two of its subsidiaries, failed to properly respond to eight separate leak alarms in 13 hours. and he improperly restarted a pipeline that had clogged.
ban the ranch
The 400-acre Banning Ranch is the largest undeveloped, privately owned land on the coast of Southern California, and the site of more than 20 years of fighting between developers and environmentalists. The lands on Newport Beach’s north coast are home to a wide array of prized wildlife habitats, including wetlands, arroyos, and coastal areas.
For those hoping to maintain it as an open space for the public to enjoy, the light at the end of the tunnel finally appeared this year. The Trust for Public Land negotiated the purchase of the property, provided it could come up with $97 million by next June. Developer and philanthropist Frank Randall and his wife, Joan, gave $50 million to the project in 2019, allowing Leap to start the process. The trust raised $33 million more this year through state and federal grants, making it a relatively modest $14 million short of its six-month goal.
hyperion sewage spill
When debris clogged a filtering screen at Playa del Rey’s Hyperion sewage treatment plant and began to flood the facility, on July 11, officials intentionally diverted water into the sea through an emergency discharge pipe to avoid additional flooding. A mile offshore discharged 17 million tons of raw sewage. Damage. Ports of Dockweiler State Beach and El Segundo Beach remained closed until July 15.
The lingering smell resulted in the City of Los Angeles paying residents of the area more than $1.4 million in compensation for hotel stays and air conditioner purchases. The five-mile offshore release of treated sewage exceeded state standards for weeks that followed.
plastics and recycling
State lawmakers continue to remove problematic waste, much of which ends up in the ocean and is responsible for killing marine life. But the most comprehensive proposal, SB 54, was introduced for the third year in a row in opposition to protests from the California Chamber of Commerce and the plastics and packaging industries.
The measure would require all single-use packaging and food items to be compostable or recyclable. A citizen initiative with similar requirements has qualified for the November 2022 ballot, although the legislature still has time to pass the measure before that.
On the bright side for environmentalists, lawmakers passed a measure that expands plastic straw restrictions to include plastic utensils and condiment packages. The law applies not only to full-service restaurants but also to take-out and fast-food businesses, which are currently exempt. Other new laws starting next year address food waste, exported recyclables, reusable glass bottles, recycling labeling and disposable wipes.
The busiest year ever at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach led to backups at docks and waters, as dozens of cargo ships could be seen anchored offshore of Long Beach and northern Orange County on any given day. Not only did this create a disorganized view of the ocean, but it contributed to the region’s already poor air quality – and attracted the attention of both state and federal officials.
Subsequent actions in ports have speeded up unloading times, reduced backlogs at docks and reduced the flow of ships in coastal waters, both of which slowed their travel from China and allowed them to reach 150 miles. Anchor has been kept till the distance. But Jean Cerocca, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, acknowledged, several issues remain. “We have a long way to go and no one is declaring victory,” he said on December 15.
Some think that California is leaning into dreams with its goal of 100% zero-carbon electricity by 2045, especially given that officials are already mulling over the life of old gas-fired generators at four coastal power plants. Most controversially, a second expansion was announced this year for the plant in Redondo Beach, where the city is eager to replace operations with a park and a wetland restoration.
But the clean-energy future got a boost this year when Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law AB 525, which requires the Energy Commission to develop a strategic plan for offshore windmills—including one that clearly states those for 2030 and 2045. goals included. The measure coincides with federal plans to deploy 30,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2030.
sea level rise
The focus on sea level rise is rising faster than the ocean, as state officials expect to be overtaken by the consequences of a sea that is eventually swallowing up existing beaches, homes and infrastructure. The SB1 law formalized and established a mechanism to fund – but not fund – sea level rise as a key responsibility of the State Coastal Commission.
Distribution of up to $100 million annually to help local governments adapt. Meanwhile, the commission approved 230-page guidelines for local governments and agencies to prepare for 10 feet high seas in 2100.
Additionally, AB 63 opens marine protected areas to projects such as restoring kelp beds, which may help offset the effects of rising seas by fortifying breeding grounds for some marine animals and reducing storm surge growth. can help. AB 66 began a study of collapsing coastal reefs, and would explore the possibility of developing an early warning system. And AB 72 streamlines bureaucratic hurdles to efforts to address sea level rise.
However, Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed SB 83, which would have established a program for the state to lend money to coastal cities to buy homes threatened by sea level rise and to rent them out until As long as they are still safe. The rent money will then go back into the loan program.