Center for Biological Diversity

Media Advisory, December 15, 2015


April Rose Sommer, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 844-7115,
Lucas Zucker, CAUSE, (805) 658-0810 x204
Kay Cuajunco, CEJA, (510) 808-5898 x102
Sandra Lupien, Food & Water Watch, (510) 922-0705

Bay Area Citizens to Rally Thursday Against Plan for More Dirty Beachfront Power

Activists to Urge Public Utilities Commission to Reject New Gas-fueled Plant on Oxnard Beach

SAN FRANCISCO— Wildlife supporters, climate activists and environmental justice advocates will rally at 10:30 a.m. Thursday on the steps of the California Public Utilities Commission in San Francisco to urge the commission to deny approval of a contract for power from a new plant on the beach in Oxnard, a small coastal city in Southern California.

What: Rally at the Public Utilities Commission to protest further development of fossil-fueled power plants and to urge the commission to deny approval of a new gas plant in Oxnard, Calif.

When: 10:30 a.m., Thurs., Dec. 17

Where: Steps of the Public Utilities Commission, 505 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco

Visuals: Colorful banners and signs along with participants from Oxnard, Ventura County, Oakland, Richmond and San Francisco in bright blue shirts. Oxnard activists will arrive by bus to provide public comments to the Utilities Commission at 9:30 a.m., before the rally.

Who: Members of public, including staff and supporters of the Center for Biological Diversity, Coastal Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, Food & Water Watch, and California Environmental Justice Alliance.

Interviews: Local leaders from impacted communities and organization activists will be available for interviews during the rally, in addition to Carmen Ramirez, Oxnard mayor pro tem.

Oxnard — a city of more than 200,000 people with a high population of low income, immigrant and Latino residents and some of the worst air quality in the country — is already burdened by three power plants. Despite strong opposition from the city of Oxnard and its citizens, Southern California Edison and NRG are working to convince the Public Utilities Commission that a new gas power plant should be built on the beach.   

The Center for Biological Diversity is fighting for project denial, arguing that there is no need for any new power generation in the area and that there are low-impact, efficient and renewable power options the commission is required to use first to fill any such need. Oxnard already suffers from some of the poorest air quality in the county, and the closest residents to the proposed plant’s site are those most-vulnerable to air pollution — low income, disenfranchised, children and the elderly. The site is surrounded on all sides by critical habitat for endangered species, including the beach-dwelling snowy plover and the Ventura Marsh milk-vetch, a critically endangered plant for which this is the last remaining wild habitat in the world.

One of the currently operating Oxnard plants is scheduled to be shut down in 2017.  Project developers have threatened to leave the retired plant to rust unless the city ceases its opposition to the new plant. The city has held its ground, passing an ordinance prohibiting any new power plants on the beach due to concerns over sea-level rise.

In the past five years an onslaught of new gas plants have been approved throughout California. Five new plants have been constructed in the greater San Francisco Bay Area alone. The Center was successful in mounting a legal challenge to the emissions permitting for the Avenal plant in San Joaquin County, and ratepayer advocates twice succeeded in challenging the Utilities Commission’s approval of a contract for power from the Oakley plant in Contra Costa.

In just the past few months, the Utilities Commission has approved contracts for power from three new gas plants in Southern California. The Center has sued the Utilities Commission over its approval of a new gas plant in Carlsbad and will continue to fight new proposals for fossil fuel power plants throughout the state.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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