Critique of the Santa Cruz Desalination Proposal 1 Critique of the Why Desalination Is Not Sustainable Santa Cruz The City of Santa Cruz is proposing to build a desalination plant to supplement Water District water Desalination supply during drought years, and eventually, to provide additional water in normal years. The plant Proposal would be used by the Soquel Creek Water District in other years to reduce pumping from wells that overdraft the aquifers. This report covers the downsides to the desalination plant: the greenhouse by Rick Longinotti gases caused by the quantity of energy it will require, the cost of desalinated water, and the impact on marine life. For a report on sustainable water alternatives to desalination, see http://transitionsc.org/ water-group. Energy Use In a dry year, the proposed desalination plant would provide 13% of Santa Cruz’s normal year water delivery, while doubling the Water Department’s electricity consumption.1 In a normal year, Soquel “If we continue with Creek Water District would use the plant at 1 million gallons/day. The District would be able to cut desalination use as we back 23% on pumping water from the aquifer. But the District’s electricity consumption would more do today, we will be the than double, not including the power to convey the water from Santa Cruz.2 biggest consumer of our The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Integrated Water Plan, the policy that commits the own oil.” City to move forward towards desalination, considers increased fossil fuel dependency to be an - Dr Mohammed al Saud, insignificant impact: Saudi Arabia Deputy Minister Impact 5.13-3: The proposed Program would increase reliance on energy resources for Water that are not renewable. Less than Significant. We vigorously disagree. Increasing reliance on fossil fuels has a profound impact on our community’s economic and social well-being. The opening article in this document makes the case that our community needs to become more resilient in the face of declining fossil fuel energy supplies. It doesn’t make sense to commit to a new water source that requires 8 times the power to pump water There are alternatives out of the ground and many more times the power requirements of surface water, which is delivered mainly by gravity. to desalination to The EIR justifies the use of fossil fuel by claiming public health depends on it: address our local “However, because this use of natural resources would be used to meet the objectives of water challenges. See the proposed Program, primarily to provide a reliable water supply and ensure protection of Transition Santa Cruz’ public health and safety, commitment of these resources would be justified.”3 report online Is public health really at stake? I consider that question on page 4. http://transitionsc.org/water-group Greenhouse Gas Emissions With half of its source power coming from fossil fuel burning plants, the desalination plant will increase greenhouse gas emissions. The impact of sea level rise on this coastal community is so vast Critique of the Santa Cruz Desalination Proposal 2 as to be difficult to comprehend. Yet the EIR for the Integrated Water Plan did not include one mention of “greenhouse gas emissions” or “climate change” in its 627 pages. The state’s AB 32 requires a 30% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020 and 80% by 2050. How in the world will the City, and especially Soquel Creek Water District (which plans to use the plant in 51/2 years out of six) comply with AB 32? The energy consultant for the project has advised the water agencies that they don’t have to comply with AB 32. “AB 32 does not directly apply to the project, and it does not provide a mandate for SCWD2 to reduce Scope 2 emissions.”4 Scope 2 emissions are those don’t occur on site, but occur as a result of the power use. The consultant’s interpretation of AB 32 is dubious. Moreover, our assessment is that this community would not favor an evasion of AB 32 on such a technicality. The consultant’s principal strategy recommendation for “offsetting” greenhouse gases is the purchase of Renewable Energy Credits. Our article, “Turn On the Greenwash Wipers” investigates these credits. 1 Total 2005 electric power use of SC Water Dept = 6,414,031 kw-h. (Source: 2005 Santa Cruz Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory, Table 1) At 75gal/kw-h the plant running 6 months at 2.5 million gal/day would require 6,066,666 kw-h 2 Energy calculation: “The total energy consumed by the District last year was approximately 3,500,000 kwh. Approximately 85- 90% is used for production (wells, treatment, etc.) and 10-15% is used for conveyance (to move/pump the water throughout the system)”. Soquel use at 1million gal/day = 365 million gal/yr At 13kwh/1000 gal, 365 million gallons uses 4,745,000 kwh District cut back in well production: 4800AF (1,564 million gallons) Less 365 million gallons from desal (23%) = 1,199 mil gal net pumping With 23% less pumping of groundwater, electric consumption due to pumping drops by = 23% x 85% x 3,500mw-h = 684 mwh Net consumption = 3500 - 684 = 2,816mw-h New electric use = Desal electric + Net Groundwater pumping use (not counting conveyance from Santa Area in Santa Cruz below sea level Cruz) with a 1-meter rise (predicted by 4,745mw-h + 2816 = 7562mw-h or 216/% of current use ---Not counting additional needed power for centuryʼs end) conveyance from Santa Cruz 3 Draft Integrated Water Plan Program EIR (2005) p 1-26 4 CH2M Hill progress report on their Energy Minimization and Gas Reduction Plan, 10/09 Critique of the Santa Cruz Desalination Proposal 3 Cost Comparison Cost to transmit and treat 1 million gallons of water from Loch Lomond reservoir = $1701 Cost of desalinated water = $3600 to $6000 per million gallons2 (at current energy prices) Cost projection for Monterey Regional Desal = $19,000 per million gallons3 Pre-construction costs: Santa Cruz and Soquel Creek District have already spent $2 million on a pilot desal plant. In addition, in 2009-2012 the Water Santa Barbara Desalination Plant Completed 1992. Districts are planning to spend $15.5 million on Shut down 2 months later. Never re-opened “design, permitting, and other related preconstruction expenses”4. Opportunity cost: The cost to pursue desalination has already committed $17.5 million in funds that might have be spent on conservation. 1 Integrated Water Plan, (2003) p V-6 2 Pacific Institute, Desalination, With a Grain of Salt 3 California Public Utilities Commission Division of Ratepayer Advocates www.dra.ca.gov/DRA/h20/ 4 Water Supply Assessment (2009) p 49 Critique of the Santa Cruz Desalination Proposal 4 Is Public Health Really at Stake? Since the EIR for the Integrated Water Plan invoked “public health and safety” to justify the increased fossil fuel use of using desalination, we ask, “Is health and safety is really at stake?” We are dubious when an strategy that would degrade the environment is presented as necessary for public health. Our conviction is that when there is an apparent conflict between the needs of the present and the needs of future generations, we need to take a close look at how we define our present needs. Just what is the effect on health and safety of a worst-case drought? The language of Water Department documents evokes a sense of emergency. The Water Shortage Contingency Plan (2009) categorizes five stages of drought severity. “Stage 3” is a drought event requiring system-wide peak-season curtailment of 25%. The Plan states, “A Stage 3 water shortage constitutes an emergency situation.”1 Still, in Stage 3 golf courses would get half of their normal year allocation. One wonders if the choice of the word “emergency” is more of a public relations tactic than a desription of human reality. The City is concerned about a “worst case scenario” drought similar to that of 1976-77. The second year of drought is the most critical. If it were to occur now, such a drought would require peak season curtailment of 39% or 46%, depending on which City document you read.2 In either case, the expected curtailment is based on the assumption that the City allow its reservoir storage to drop to as low as 64% capacity on October 1 of normal rainfall years.3 This policy of depleting reservoir storage during normal years makes for un-necessarily Pasatiempo and Delaveaga Golf Courses would still get 50% of their severe curtailments should the subsequent two years be critically dry. normal water in a Stage 3 drought “emergency”. 2009 is a year that exemplifies better drought preparedness. With a 14% peak season conservation effort , the City’s reservoir retained a 90% capacity as of October 1, 2009, an ideal level should drought continue for two more years. In 2010, once again the lake level was above 90% capacity on October 1. The best drought security for the City is to change its “rule” for use of Loch Lomond Reservoir so that it re-fills completely each winter, instead of the historical 7 out of 10 winters. This would require that the water use of 2009 and 2010 becomes the norm. This goal that is well within reach with a campaign to retrofit toilets and showerheads. If the City were to achieve Oct 1 reservoir levels of 90% each normal or mildly dry year, curtailments in case of a worst- case drought would be much less than 39%. More reservoir water would be available for the critically dry years than could be provided by a 2.5mgd desal plant. See transitionsc.org/water-group for more information. 1 p ES-6 2 The Integrated Water Plan (2003) Table II-4 publishes the results of the 2001 Curtailment Study by Gary Fiske & Assoc. The table lists a “worst-case” peak season curtailment of 39% for 2010. That is in contrast to the Draft EIR for the UCSC sphere of influence extension (2009) “the City would experience a 46% peak season shortage in the second year”. The source for the latter figure is listed as “Toby Goddard, City of Santa Cruz Water Dept., personal communication”. Mr. Goddard has not responded to a request to explain his calculations. 3 “Under these rule curves, no shortage is indicated if lake storage is above 85% capacity on April 1 and as long as the lake is forecast to remain above 64% capacity through the end of September” -Water Shortage Contigency Plan (2009) Critique of the Santa Cruz Desalination Proposal 5 Impact on Marine Life abandoned waste water pipe that extends 2000 feet offshore from Mitchell Cove. In order to minimize marine mortality the City Desalination plants have potential impacts on marine life at both is considering multiple intake ports on the intake pipe. That will ends of the pipe, the intake of ocean water and the discharge of brine reduce the velocity of the water sucked in at any particular intake back into the ocean. port, thus reducing the amount of impingement of the larger marine life on the intake screens. Small mesh screens may reduce Water Intake: Impingement and Entrainment of Marine Life entrainment of smaller organisms. But billions of micro-organisms According to the Pacific Institute’s report, Desalination, With that are at the base of the food chain will pass through the screens a Grain of Salt, A California Perspective, “Impingement and and become entrained on the desal filters. entrainment of marine organisms are among the most significant environmental threats associated with seawater desalination.” The environmental impact report for the plant will evaluate the Impingement refers to mortality of marine life on screens as ocean impact of impingement and entrainment of marine life, although water is sucked into the pipe. Entrainment refers to the mortality of the lack of research on this topic will limit the extent to which any smaller organisms such as plankton, fish eggs and larvae that pass firm conclusions can be reached. through the screens and die during the pre-treatment process. The Pacific Institute notes that “only limited research on the impacts of desalination facilities on the marine environment has been done.” However, more research has been done on power plants that use ocean water for cooling. “An analysis of coastal and estuarine power plants in California suggests that impingement and entrainment associated with once-through cooling systems have significant environmental impacts: “... impingement and entrainment impacts equal the loss of biological productivity of thousands of acres of habitat” (York and Foster 2005).1 Those power plants can process a hundred times more ocean water than the planned desalination facility in Santa Cruz. The extent of damage to marine life from small facilities such as the one proposed in Santa Cruz is unknown. Discharge There are measures to reduce the extent of impingement and entrainment. Drawing water from pipes buried under a sandy ocean As water passes through the reverse osmosis filter membrane, floor is one way to reduce the mortality of marine life. However, leaving the salt behind, a brine is created that is roughly twice as the local offshore geology is not conducive to that option. There salty as ocean water. High concentrations of salt in discharged has been no decision as to the location of seawater intake for the water can poison marine life. Santa Cruz intends to dilute plant, but an option that is under consideration is the use of an this brine with water from the sewage treatment plant before discharging it into the ocean. Critique of the Santa Cruz Desalination Proposal 6 There are other wastes that will be discharged that are of are released in the environment and can be concentrated in concern. The Pacific Institute reports, shellfish and other filter-feeders. This would be detrimental “Chemicals used throughout the desalination process to endangered species feeding on these filter feeders (e.g. sea may also be discharged with the brine. The majority otters).4 of these chemicals are applied during pretreatment to prevent membrane fouling (Amalfitano and Lam 2005). Carol Reeb, a fisheries geneticist with Stanford’s Hopkins Marine For example, chlorine and other biocides are applied Station, is concerned about the cumulative impact of the brine continuously to prevent organisms from growing on the discharge from the eight planned desalination facilities in Monterey plant’s interior, and sodium bisulfite is then often added Bay. “The Monterey Bay is a semi-enclosed system which means to eliminate the chlorine, which can damage membranes. it is protected from large offshore currents which could flush away Anti-scalants, such as polyacrylic or sulfuric acid, are brine waste. Coupled with the ebb and flow of tides and eddy-like also added to prevent salt deposits from forming on circulation, this could allow brine plumes to entrain and accumulate piping. Coagulants, such as ferric chloride and polymers, along our coastline over the course of are added to the feedwater to years.”5 Reeb notes that “Monterey’s bind particles together.” There are no mitigation measures 2 Marine Sanctuary is home to 9 fish There are no mitigation measures in the in the EIR for the Integrated Water and an abalone listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.” EIR for the Integrated Water Plan that Plan that address the biocides, address the biocides, anti-scalants, and anti-scalants, and coagulants that Precautionary Principle coagulants that are discharged in the are discharged in the brine waste When considering the environmental brine waste in the normal operation of impact of a project, it is tempting to the plant.3 want a definitive answer. “Is it going to be harmful, and if so how harmful?” It Marine biologist, Cécile Mioni, reports that toxins from algae doesn’t feel very satisfying to get the answer, “Intake of ocean water blooms could also be concentrated in the brine: is definitely harmful when done on a large scale, but it is not known Monterey Bay is plagued with Harmful Algae Bloom how harmful small scale intake will be.” (sometimes toxic, refer to death of birds and sea lions related to domoic acid in the area last summer). Environmental impact reports are written with the presumption that These blooms occur every year in Spring/Summer impacts can be classified as “significant” or “not significant”, when (PseudoNitzschia bloom with domoic acid production) in fact the impacts of human action on the environment ripple out and in Fall (red tide with dinoflagellates such as into the environment in a way that is not fully knowable. Every Akashiwo that sometimes produce toxins). The brine will environmental impact report should contain the preamble, “This is the most likely contain these harmful algae and concentrate best we can estimate with our limited knowledge.” them near shore in one spot. When a cell is exposed to too much salt/hypertonic solution, it shrinks and dies The humility of scientists who recognize the limits of their knowledge and can break open. If the cells break open, the toxins Critique of the Santa Cruz Desalination Proposal 7 has led to the development of the Precautionary Principle, a modern version of the ancient Is Desalinated Seawater Safe? commitment, Primum non nocere. “First, do no harm.” The European Commission Communication The algae, Pseudo-nitzschia on the Precautionary Principle describes it: australis, has received a great “The precautionary principle applies deal of attention in Monterey where scientific evidence is insufficient, Bay. It blooms in Monterey Bay inconclusive or uncertain and preliminary from late spring to early fall scientific evaluation indicates that there and can produce domoic acid, a are reasonable grounds for concern that potent neurotoxin that can cause the potentially dangerous effects on the neural damage, disorientation, environment, human, animal or plant health short-term memory loss and may be inconsistent with the high level of even seizures and brain damage protection chosen by the EU”.6 in vertebrates. Red tides occur seasonally in Monterey Bay and Red tide at Half Moon Bay 2007 Planning eight desalination plants on Monterey Bay have been more frequent in the Bay in spite of the reasonable grounds for concern about since 2004 with large blooms occurring marine impacts does not seem to us consistent with in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007.1 Red tides have lasted several months in Monterey a precautionary approach to conserving the natural Bay. world. (Footnotes) California has strict standards for water agencies concerning their source water. 1 Pacific Institute, Desalination, With a Grain of Salt However up until recently that source water has always been on land. There is p. 59 no existing regulatory standard for domoic acid or saxitoxin in drinking water set 2 ibid p 61 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the California Department of 3 Final EIR, Integrated Water Plan (2005) Public Health (DPH).2 4 email correspondence 7/13/10 5 public comment at Ca. Public Utilities Commission The report from the SCWD2 pilot desalination plant that operated at Long Marine hearing, 6/2010 Lab expresses confidence in the ability of the desalination filters to eliminate these 6 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precautionary_ toxins. principle “Although there is limited published information on the operations of existing facilities during these types of blooms, discussions with industry professionals indicate that toxins are generally not a concern because the algae and toxins are removed by treatment process.”3 Because there was no red tide event during the pilot plant testing, the SCWD2 pilot plant performed a study to determine the ability of the desalination process Critique of the Santa Cruz Desalination Proposal 8 to eliminate the neurotoxins. Instead of using domoic acid or City water. They found that bromine reacts with organic molecules saxitoxin, they used kainic acid, a safer surrogate which has a in the City’s water to form brominated tri-halo-methanes (THM), a similar molecular weight and structure. The results show that carcinogen. “The results indicate that bromide concentrations greater prefilters have a low rate of rejection of kainic acid, but that the than 0.5 mg/L may significantly increase total THM formation after reverse osmosis filters have an excellent rate of rejection, 99.8% blending with treated surface water within the distribution system. of the kainic is removed. For this reason, it is recommended that the reverse osmosis system be selected to reduce the bromide concentration in the desalinated Is reverse osmosis as effective in removing toxins as it is in water to 0.5 mg/L or less.”6 In other words, the project had better removing kainic acid? A 2009 paper published by a team led by order high performance reverse osmosis filters if it hopes to meet the USC biologist, David Caron, suggests that a study be conducted regulatory requirements for disinfection byproducts. to test if that is true: “To our knowledge, there are no published reports on the effectiveness of reverse osmosis for removing The operation of the desalination plant will require continuous dissolved algal toxins from seawater. Some of these toxin monitoring of source water for algae blooms. It will require frequent molecules (e.g. domoic acid) are near the theoretical testing of filtered water for desired level of contaminants. This system molecular size of molecules rejected by reverse osmosis will need to operate with a high level of performance in order to membranes, but experimental studies are required to meet safe water standards. The required high level of performance validate the effective of this process on toxin removal.” means the proposed plant is more like a thoroughbred racehorse than a workhorse. Thoroughbreds have more reliability issues than workhorses. Boron and Bromine Boron and bromine are two elements that aren’t normally of concern in drinking water sources on land. Boron is not an EPA regulated contaminant.4 But the pilot desal plant study set goals for boron removal. Boron from desalination water in Israel was (Footnotes) found to have an adverse affect on plants. Boron has also been 1 Desalination Pilot Test Program Final Report, p 3-18 shown to have harmful effects on development in lab animals. 2 Desalination Pilot Test Program Final Report, Appendix A, TM-4-4 3 ibid TM-4-2 The report of the pilot desal plant recommends strict goals 4 http://www.epa.gov/safewater/ccl/reg_determine2.html for bromine removal. “Once the seawater desalination plant 5 Desalination Pilot Test Program Final Report p 4-9 is brought on-line, the desalinated water, which contains 6 ibid p 4-11 bromide, will mix with Graham Hill treatment plant water in the distribution system. This may increase the challenge of meeting the Stage 2 Disinfection Byproduct regulations.”5 The pilot study performed a test in which desalinated water was mixed with Critique of the Santa Cruz Desalination Proposal 9 Is Desalination Reliable? Desalination in the News A key argument for desalination is its reliability. Currently Santa Cruz is at the mercy of nature. When drought March 17, 2009 occurs we necessarily cut back our water consumption. Tampa Bay Waterʼs long-troubled desali- Desalination offers the promise nation plant is having more problems. of not having to tolerate The $158 million plant, which opened five nature’s whims. We will never years late and cost $40 million more than again have to cut our water expected, remains unable to supply the consumption by more than full 25 million gallons a day that was orig- 15%, even in the worst case inally promised. drought, according to the ________________________________________ Integrated Water Plan. But is desalination all that Desal promises weʼll never have to cut our reliable? Or does Nature really water consumption by more than 15%. bat last? January 23, 2010 Red Tides Waterʼs Quick Fix a Long-term Drain According to a recent study, “Algal blooms can cause significant operational issues RUSTING in sea water, the $1.2 billion that result in increased chemical consumption, increased membrane fouling rates, Gold Coast desalination plant required and in extreme cases, a plant to be taken off-line.”4 repairs soon after it opened. The A red tide event occurred in the Arabian Gulf in 2008-2009 that lasted for over 8 showpiece of a Queensland government months. The fouling of desalination plant filters disrupted the operation of plants in strategy to drought-proof the stateʼs the Gulf. A paper published in Harmful Algae reports, “As Arabian Gulf countries booming southeast, the project has rely on desalination plants as the primary source of freshwater, the disruption of been plagued by so many construction plant operations by recurring Cochlodinium blooms poses a serious threat to the flaws and unscheduled shut-downs that drinking water supply in the region.”5 the government is still refusing to take possession from the contractors who built Harmful algae and their potential impacts on desalination operations off Southern California, it. 4 Water Research Volume 44, Issue 2, January 2010, Pages 385-416 5 Harmful Algae, Volume 9, Issue 2, February 2010, Pages 163-172 Critique of the Santa Cruz Desalination Proposal 10 Turn On the Greenwash Wipers in the atmosphere into wood. Re-forestation is desperately needed, By Rick Longinotti because massive deforestation is still occurring around the world. And re-forestation can reverse the release of carbon into the atmosphere Congratulations on our success! You and I are part of a shift in caused by the original deforestation. But to claim that it “offsets” carbon public opinion towards care for the natural environment. And we released by a jet flight distorts the reality that carbon from under the know we’ve made an impact because there’s a lot of corporate earth has overburdened the atmosphere-plant carbon cycle. marketing money trying to win our belief in their green credentials. Energy corporations, for example, have a big stake in getting the At a presentation in 2009 the water agencies included “forestry public to believe there is such a thing as “Clean Coal”, or that BP management” as a potential carbon offset project for the desalination means “Beyond Petroleum”. plant. The City owns forest lands in the watersheds of Loch Lomond and Zayante Creek. They would count refraining from logging as a Our local water agencies have taken a leaf from the corporate carbon offset. One audience member spoke up, “You mean you’re going notebook. They hired a multi-national engineering firm, CH2M to count it when you don’t cut down a tree?!” Hill, to advise them on how to “offset” the desalination project’s production of greenhouse gases. Renewable Energy Credits The consultant’s strategy has To Green Lies Littleaddress the greenhouse gas issue, the energy consultant is advising already won a victory if the the water agencies to purchase Renewable Energy Credits (REC’s).1 public assumes there is a way to When a Renewable “Often theproducer sells electricity from renewable sources such as solar effectively “offset” increased fossil and Credit producer Energywind, the trade is allowed to sell a certificate, the Renewable fuel use. But “offset” strategies run Energy Credit.. more seems like littleRenewable Energy Credits were meant to be an into a basic problem. Once carbon incentive to renewable than the buying and energy producers to build more wind turbines and solar panels. The question is, do they really work to encourage from under ground is burned into selling of bragging the atmosphere, you can’t put industry to expand renewable power? rights, rather than the carbon back in the ground. incentivesstory in Business Week, titled Little Green Lies, contends, (Although there are some engineers A cover that lead to the construction of wind used RECs, which are supposed to result “The most commonly who want to try it. The new discipline of “geo-engineering”, in third panels.” turbines or asolarparty’s developing pollution-free power, turn out to powered by energy company and be highly dubious…. Often the REC trade seems like little government money seeks a technological fix for climate change. more than the buying and selling of bragging rights, rather than They propose compressing carbon dioxide and injecting it incentives that lead to the construction of wind turbines or solar underground. So far no communities have stepped forward to be panels. The trouble stems from the basic economics of RECs.” the first to sit atop the world’s most powerful soda bottle.) Business Week reports that the subsidy from REC’s is not significant enough to stimulate new investment in renewable power. The revenue Sellers of carbon offsets talk of sequestering carbon in plant that producers receive from government subsidies and energy sales material. With money from people who want to offset their airline dwarfs the subsidy from REC’s. flights, they plant trees. The idea is that the trees will convert CO2 Even many wind-power developers that stand to profit from Critique of the Santa Cruz Desalination Proposal 11 RECs concede that producers making $91 a megawatt hour burning of carbon dioxide into the air. For example, installing aren’t going to expand production for another $2. “At this energy efficient equipment reduces carbon dioxide emissions. But price, they’re not very meaningful for the developer,” says it is no help to us or our grandchildren to conserve energy in one John Calaway, chief development officer for U.S. wind area only to increase our energy use in a new and unprecedented power at Babcock & Brown, an investment bank that funds way. Up until now Santa Cruz water arrives at our faucets mainly new wind projects. “It doesn’t support building something through gravity---with a minimum of pumping. The proposed that wouldn’t otherwise be built.” desalination of seawater is a major new departure---an energy expenditure that will cancel out the many ways we are attempting A more effective way to promote the development to reduce our energy use. of renewable power is for government to require When Aspen Uses Fossil Fuels to utilities to expand the amount of renewable energy Adapt to Climate Change Our choice is clear. We can opt to live within in their portfolios. California requires the utilities our water limits, which requires restraint in to reach 20% renewable electricity by 2010. Shorter Winters our water use and decision-making about growth. Or we can buy our way out of those If Renewable Energy Credits aren’t an effective limits---for a while. The second option incentive to producing more renewable power, Greenhouse Gases worsens the climate problem for everyone. then they are actually harmful because they create from Artificial Snow an erroneous impression that something effective Machines 1 “Energy Minimization and Greenhouse Gas is being done to offset fossil fuel emissions. In Reduction Study” Presentation by CH2M HILL of Preliminary Findings at Soquel the case of Aspen Ski Resort, the purchase of When Santa Cruz Uses Fossil Creek Water District, 10/20/2009 REC’s added 2% to their energy bill. With that Fuels to Adapt to Climate Change expenditure they claimed that they offset “100% Shorter Winters of our electricity use with wind energy credits”. Aspen bought “bragging rights”, but the amount of renewable power in the utility’s grid remained Greenhouse Gases unchanged. from Desal The trade in REC’s is a zero sum game. The utility’s ledger shows a credit for Aspen Skiing, but an equivalent debit must be shown for the rest of the utility’s customers. And the atmosphere’s ledger shows no reductions in greenhouse gases. If Aspen really wanted do something to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they would stop making artificial snow. Catastrophic climate changes will not be prevented through self- deceptive “offsets”. Only actions matter---those that reduce our Critique of the Santa Cruz Desalination Proposal 12 My Argument with the Gods - Rick Longinotti You say you humans are innocent because of you It feels unfair that our main source of energy (fossil fuel) is didn’t know the climate consequences of your causing catastrophic changes in climate. The consequences fossil fuel use. We will generously grant your seem so harsh in proportion to the crime. Shouldn’t it be a claim of innocence during the first act of your minor cosmic misdemeanor---or no infraction at all---that drama---even though there were plenty of clues humans would use such a powerful energy source rather than that you should moderate your use, like smog, leave it in the ground? In Tevye’s words from Fiddler on the sprawl, black lung disease, deforestation, loss of Roof, “Would it spoil some vast eternal plan” if we could be topsoil, oil spills at sea, and wars for oil. Now energy-rich without the negative consequences? It’s enough you are in the second act of your drama. No more to make you think the ancient Greeks were right. The gods are protests of innocent ignorance. Now you know. enjoying themselves at our expense. I felt a bit humbled, but I wasn’t ready to let Artemis Last night I lay in bed arguing with the gods---the Greek ones. have the last word. “Hey, our generation didn’t create Unlike Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, I don’t have the nerve this situation. We were born into addiction to fossil fuel. to argue with the God of my upbringing. I argued, “Isn’t it Our whole economic system is based on it. How fair is it about the lowest form of entertainment? that we have to pay the price? Do you really You put these deposits of coal, oil, and expect we can change the system?” natural gas within our reach, and then when we use them to lighten our burden, Artemis: Does laying responsibility on the you hit us with catastrophic climate system mean there is no room for individuals change! Do you actually enjoy watching to join together to alter the system? The innocent people suffer?” second act has begun. It is taking place in your community, and in communities across Artemis replied on behalf of the gods. your world. Your own community is about to (On Halloween a girl of about 7 arrived make the kind of decision you make when, at my door carrying a bow and arrow. 1. You think you are energy-rich and 2. You She told me she was Artemis. I told her think there are no consequences that money I needed to look that one up. Wikipedia can’t fix. I need to get my popcorn and take says that Artemis is “goddess of forests my seat. Goodbye. and hills, child birth, virginity, fertility, the hunt.” ) This was Artemis’ reply: I didn’t argue. Critique of the Santa Cruz Desalination Proposal 13 What would the atmosphere think about the list of carbon offset projects? • Solar panels: “I have mixed feelings. I suffer more CO2 initially due to the fossil fuel used in the manufacture. It will take about ten years for the panels to produce the amount of energy it took to manufacture them.Then you get 20 years of non-fossil fuel electricity before you have to replace the panels. If you must use electricity, use solar panels rather than fossil fuel. But use them to power things you really need.” • Off-peak pumping “So you’re using electricity at night? That is marginally less harmful for me, because at night you lower your use of coal-fired power from outside California. But the majority of power produced inside California is still fossil fuel.” • Energy savings through water efficiency, conservation measures, and drought-related curtailment “I like any project that reduces energy use. That’s what you need to be doing if you want to slow the ocean’s rising. But don’t conserve with one hand while your other hand is watering the lawn with desalinated water. That’s like dieting so you can binge. 1. David Fridley, energy analyst with Lawrence Berkeley Labs, estimates that the energy return on investment for photovoltaic power is 3:1. That is, over the lifetime of the system (assumed 30years), the solar panels generate 3 times the amount of power that it takes to manufacture them.