INDIO, CA – Reacting quickly to Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez’s, D-Coachella, slate of Salton Sea restoration bills announced Wednesday, the Salton Sea Authority will vote on a recommendation to support Assembly Bill 71 and consider support of AB 147 and 148 when it meets again in February.
Speaking at Thursday’s Salton Sea Authority Board of Directors meeting, Pérez’s senior field representative Silvia Paz said that the assemblyman this year is trying to tackle the Salton Sea’s various issues. To that end, AB 71 is a governance bill. Salton Sea Authority staff is recommending approval of AB 71, with three caveats:
Firstly, the bill’s suggestion that funding for a feasibility study may not be available until July 2014 is not consistent with the level of urgency that the staff feels is necessary to move forward with restoration.
Secondly, the bill has a royalty-sharing mechanism associated with it. Staff feels that revenues generated by restoration-related activities need to be utilized for restoration.
Thirdly, the staff feels that to “eliminate air quality impacts from restoration projects” is unrealistic, and suggests setting the bar lower to “mitigation to a reasonable level.”
The other two bills are new, and the authority has not had adequate time to vet the bills.
AB 147, the Salton Sea Air Pollution Mitigation Act, seeks to quantify the extent of dust pollution and chemicals from the exposed lakebed due to the Quantification Settlement Agreement water transfer and agricultural runoff draining into the sea, and to identify funding sources — including energy-generating potential of the sea — to pay environmental mitigation costs.
AB 148, the Salton Sea Renewable Energy and Bio-Fuel Research and Development Program, seeks to tap the Salton Sea’s geothermal and biofuel energy potential as a way to fund dust-control and environmental restoration efforts