6/28/16 – Energy Briefs: Little Hoover Commission adds pressure to state for Salton Sea action

Imperial Valley Press, 6-28-16

Editor’s Note: Energy Briefs is a weekly recollection of local, regional, national and international news regarding some of the most intriguing news updates regarding energy, water and the environment.

Last Friday the vice chair of the Little Hoover Commission Jack Flanigan sent a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown and top legislators from the state senate and assembly to urge the state to take a more proactive approach to act on the quickly receding Salton Sea.

The letter talks about some of the known consequences of not dealing with the lake such as respiratory problems, the decline of habitat and the potential impact on the region’s economy.

Flanigan said although the damage of the receding sea won’t happen overnight they will accelerate after 2018 when water inflows diminish and tells officials that dealing with the sea should be as urgent as dealing with wildfires or an oil spill blackening beaches.

“Just as he did in 2014 in response to the multi-year drought and again in 2015 in response to the resultant massive die-off of trees in California’s forests, Governor Brown could declare a state of emergency at the Salton Sea to protect the health and safety and preserve the lives and the property of the people of the state,” Flanigan wrote in the letter.

He said that despite the increasing amount of action at the sea there is much more to be done.

“The commission commends the state’s efforts but finds the state still lacks a sense of urgency,” the letter said.

One of the main points of the letter mentioned that due to the delay of projects such as Red Hill Bay and Species Conservation Habitat the 9,000 to 12,000 acres of exposed playa the projects intend to cover by 2020, another 10,000 will have become exposed.

Flanigan concludes by making four recommendations to consider moving forward. The letter said that the Salton Sea has to be made a top priority at the state level.

“Make implementation of Salton Sea projects as high a priority as high speed rail, the twin tunnels, reduced carbon emissions and increased renewable energy,” the letter said. “Enact legislations to ensure any lawsuits filed in connection to the short-term projects are resolved in a year or less.”

The other recommendations include: to give the necessary tools and resources to get the job done to the Natural Resources Agency Assistant Secretary for Salton Sea Policy Bruce Wilcox, develop and publish a plan for project implementation and assess Salton Sea management costs and develop a funding strategy.