The Coastal Commission staff report was released Friday, recommending that the commission deny PG&E's permit application. Part of the summary gives the following reasoning:
"The key Coastal Act issue of concern is this project’s significant and unavoidable impacts to marine resources. Seismic surveys are among the very loudest anthropogenic underwater sound sources and can cause disturbance, injury, and loss of a large number of marine species due to air gun noise. Of particular concern are impacts to the harbor porpoise (Morro Bay stock), whose range is limited to the general project area, and the entire population of which is likely to be subject to behavioral harassment. The project would also adversely affect Marine Protected Areas, fish and other invertebrates, involving both physiological impacts as well as economic impacts to commercial and recreational fishing by precluding fishing and potentially affecting fish behavior and biology. While PG&E proposes to fund a monitoring program and implement measures to minimize effects, including cessation of air gun use if marine mammals are near enough to the sound source to be subject to greater than behavioral effects, a number of limitations (including the proposed use of air guns at night time and in potentially high seas and windy conditions that would make it difficult to detect marine mammals) would cause these measures to be ineffective much of the time.
Thus, even with extensive monitoring, and implementation of measures to minimize impacts, the Commission staff believes this project would still result in significant disturbance, injury and loss of marine biological resources and is therefore inconsistent with the Coastal Act’s marine resource protection policies (Sections 30230 and 30231)."
The report continues that the project falls into the category of a "coastal-dependent industrial facility," qualifying it for an "override." On consideration of a number of factors, the staff concludes that PG&E has not presented sufficient evidence for that, either.
This is certainly encouraging. The best part for me was that they give the environment higher consideration than PG&E or political influences. This report is science- and law-based, protecting the coast rather than using it as a bargaining point in negotiating how to exploit it.
None of the county supervisors stood up for the environment or the local fishing and tourism economy, retreating behind a cover story of "public safety" and PG&E's economic power and political influence. If the public isn't safe from Diablo Canyon, provide some leadership that will fortify it so that it is safe or the political will to shut it down.
We are entrusted with a valuable coastline which we hold in trust for the world. It deserves to have the legal protection which has already been enacted to be honored and enforced.