Editor's note: This opinion piece was also submitted to the Beach Reporter and Easy Reader newspapers.
In all the discussions about whether we want a new power plant on our coast, it’s important to remember that other communities have fought the exact same battle the South Bay is facing now—and won! They are remaking their waterfronts without a polluting behemoth dominating their skyline and degrading the air they breathe. Why can’t we accomplish the same thing?
AES themselves have calculated and reported to us that particulate pollution will double with a new plant, and of course, those are very conservative estimates. More accurate estimates show it quadrupling, from five tons to 20 tons per year—which is about what their Huntington Beach plant emits.
- Complete coverage: Debate Over AES Redondo Beach
If you don’t know about particulates know at least this: more than twice as many people die every year in California from particulate exposure than die from breast cancer. More than twice every year!
Don’t drop your concern about the impacts to the South Bay because AES and others would have you look at air pollution in our "whole region." AES plans call for lowering their stacks and laying all that new pollution closer to the ground right here in the South Bay. That additional particulate pollution equates to adding two more Pacific Coast Highways' worth of traffic, or 80,000 cars per day. Still care about the “whole region” that stretches all the way to Riverside and Orange County?
And what about "regional" power needs? Even with the problems at the San Onofre power plant, study after study, and even testimony at our own Council meeting from industry experts say the region can retire a large power plant. AES disagrees with them, of course, and says they’d rather see the El Segundo plant retire, which is owned by a different company and ahead of them with their plans.
The other elephant in the room is the power lines. That question of whether they can go remains unanswered. And if they can go if is retired, all the more reason to retire it. That question needs to be answered.
Many South Bay residents are confused and think the Redondo Beach City Council voted to oppose a new power plant last week. All we did was vote to have staff write a simple resolution opposing it. Two councilmembers made it clear they would not support the resolution if a citizens group did not drop their plans to rezone the land by a voter-approved initiative, similar to what City staff proposed years ago.
I hope the hardworking citizens, with the help of those on the Council opposed to the initiative process, can come together and craft something that most can agree on and move forward with the future this waterfront needs and deserves. But I don’t think anyone should give up their right to petition their own government. People have given their lives for this right, and they should never bargain it away.
I encourage anyone in the South Bay who does not want to see a new power plant on our coast to attend the next Redondo Council meeting on May 1 and be heard. Take the lead from those communities that have been successful in remaking their waterfronts without a power plant. It’s now or never. The train to get a new plant is leaving the station, and it needs to be stopped. Only united political pressure and public opposition will stop it. This is your chance to be a part of history.
City Councilman Bill Brand represents District No. 2 in Redondo Beach.