The Commission held its April 2021 meeting virtually, keeping with ongoing public health orders. The staff reports and comment letters associated with our meeting are available in our Archives. The Executive Officer’s report with updates and links to supplementary materials for a wide array of activities and projects is also available. Of particular note are updates about two significant oil and gas decommissioning projects in the Santa Barbara Channel.
The Commission adopted a resolution in support of directing funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to California ports to mitigate negative economic impacts resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and allow them to sustain the essential services and maintain the critical infrastructure California relies on to protect jobs and recover economically. California ports with assets and amenities catering to business travel and tourism have been hit exceptionally hard by the pandemic. The American Rescue Plan included authority to transfer relief funds to California ports. The Commission’s resolution memorializes its support for directing this funding to California ports. This action follows a briefing from the ports at the Commission’s February meeting—during which the ports briefed the Commission about their contributions to the statewide COVID response, the economic challenges they face, and partnership opportunities. The ports also briefed the Commission about their significant contributions to their local and regional communities in response to the pandemic.
The Commission adopted a support position on a pair of federal bills, S. 572 and H.R. 1663, intended to reduce pollution along the US – Mexico border and improve water quality at the Tijuana and New Rivers. These bills, adapted from a Government Accountability Office report released last year, would designate the US EPA as the lead agency to address border pollution along the US – Mexico Border and require the US EPA, in consultation with other entities, to develop and implement projects, plans, and initiatives to improve and protect water quality in the Tijuana River watershed. The bills require the US EPA to ensure restoration and protection activities are coordinated among Mexican, federal, state, local, and regional entities and conservation partners and fund water quality restoration and protection activities in the Mexican and American Tijuana River watershed. The Commission’s action on these bills is consistent with its ongoing leadership to identify solutions to the Tijuana River environmental crisis. The Commission looks forward to working with Senators Feinstein and Padilla, Representative Vargas, and others to move this legislation through Congress.
Proposed Carbon Capture and Sequestration Project
The Commission took action to facilitate the review and analysis of a potential carbon capture and sequestration project in the California Delta. The California Department of Water Resources transferred its jurisdiction over significant portions of land at Sherman Island to the Commission to enable the Commission to process a lease application—the first step in a project’s trajectory. The Commission also agreed to enter into a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department to facilitate coordination and review of a proposed carbon capture and sequestration project application. Carbon capture and sequestration is a suite of technologies that allows the capture of CO2 from the environment or from industrial facilities; processing, compression, and transport of the captured CO2; and injection of CO2 into subsurface geological formations for permanent storage (i.e., sequestration). Certain areas of California is well situated for this type of project because of their favorable sequestration geology in deep brine and depleted oil and gas reservoirs.
Future Meetings and Ways to Stay Informed
The Commission’s next public meeting will be on June 29, 2021. You can sign up here to receive updates about this and future meetings. Another great way to stay informed is by following the State Lands Commission on Twitter.