"We're terribly disappointed," said David Guido of Huntington
Beach Tomorrow, a local land-use group. "They had the perfect
opportunity for this thing to be put to bed before it went any
Hansen disagreed, arguing that Poseidon would have simply further
revised the report and resubmitted it.
"You must concede that at some point the report is going to become
adequate," he said.
Councilman Dave Sullivan said the city has not reached that point,
adding that he was concerned that the report does not address the
possible dewatering effects the construction of the pipeline might
have on coastal areas.
He said he voted against certifying the environmental report
because he was concerned that the pipeline might also destabilize the
Ascon toxic waste dump.
"Until my dewatering questions are addressed, I will continue to
have grave concerns about this project," he said.
Sullivan suggested that a compromise pleasing both sides seems
unlikely, but Hansen said the possibility for a deal exists.
"It depends at what point the applicant will start delivering
things that will ease some fears," he said. "I'm sure that's how the
guys at Poseidon are busy spinning their wheels."
In the meantime, opponents of the project are busy contemplating
how to stop Poseidon. Just as in the environmental report phase, when
opponents worked to provide council members with reasons to reject
the plan, organizers must now begin compiling reasons that a
desalination facility is not a good fit for the community, Guido
"We lost the first round, but we plan to keep the fight going," he
Guido added that he believes the environmental report is the
easiest step in the process, followed by the permitting process and
then a more difficult review by the Coastal Commission. Staff members
from that agency have been highly critical of the desalination plant.
Ultimately, Poseidon could be decided by a judge, said
Councilwoman Debbie Cook, who voted against certifying the
"The city invites two lawsuits by doing this the way it looks like
they will do it," she wrote in an e-mail. "They will be sued on the
EIR [environmental report] -- there is just too much interest
statewide in this. If the environmental groups don't sue, they run
the risk of another entity utilizing the approved EIR or Poseidon
winning a lawsuit on the CUP [conditional-use permit] side. Poseidon
will probably sue if their project is denied."
The city has the right to substantiate findings against the
project, but Cook said, "I have my doubts as to whether this council
has the stomach for a protracted legal fight. Past behavior is the
best indicator of future behavior."