California is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. But in our state, not all beaches are created equal. That becomes painfully clear if you drive 50 miles north of Los Angeles to Oxnard, where the beaches have been seized by corporate polluters, marred by industrial waste and devastated by three fossil-fuel power plants that sit along the shoreline.
Oxnard has more coastal power plants than any other city in the state, and not coincidentally, its population is predominantly Latino and low-income. Oxnard became an environmental sacrifice zone when power plants were first constructed over 60 years ago and, for decades, corporations have targeted Oxnard as a dumping site. They have profited from the city’s environmental destruction and left behind hazardous waste that continues to threaten the health and safety of its residents.
Now, the fossil fuel giant NRG Energy plans to build a fourth plant to provide extra electricity for the region — the Puente Power Project — on Oxnard’s beachfront.
While Oxnard’s City Council, state and federal representatives, and residents oppose this project, Puente’s fate will be decided by two state agencies — the Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the Energy Commission (CEC). Last month, over the objections of NRG Energy, CEC ordered a study of alternative energy sources to the Puente power plant. The study found that alternatives such as solar power and energy storage are available; the fossil fuel plant is not the only option.
The study proved what we have long known — the Puente plant is an obsolete solution to our 21st century problems. At a time when California is planning to transition to 100 percent clean energy by 2045, the Puente power plant is an unnecessary project that would shackle Oxnard to the dying fossil fuels industry, while the rest of California develops the technology to meet local energy demands in cheaper, cleaner ways.
Puente is not only an impractical project but also an…