August 20, 2020 Meeting Highlights

The staff reports and public comment letters associated with our August public meeting are available here. The Executive Officer’s report, with updates on various issues, activities, and projects involving the Commission is available here. Below are highlights from the August meeting.

Strategic Plan

Staff briefed the Commission about the development of its new 2021-2025 strategic plan. Commission staff, together with our consultant, Stantec Consulting, briefed the Commission about stakeholder outreach and perspectives collected during interviews with about 80 stakeholders. From these interviews, Commission staff and the Stantec team identified key intersecting themes for inclusion in the new strategic plan: climate, collaborate/convene/mediate (build alignment), equity and environmental justice, post-petroleum economy, and the evolving nature of the Public Trust Doctrine in land and resource management. The Commission was also briefed about an upcoming series of virtual Tribal Government roundtable sessions and one-on-one consultations.

The Commission emphasized how much it would like to hear from the public and an openness to new ideas and perspectives so that it can advance the state’s policy goals and serve the people of California as effectively as possible. Staff is now working to produce a draft Strategic Plan for review for the October Commission meeting.

BigBeau Solar

The Commission approved a 40-year lease for BigBeau Solar to develop a new solar energy facility on 120 acres in southeastern Kern County that is forecast to produce 128 megawatts of renewable electric energy, and would also have a battery storage system capable of delivering 60 megawatts to the grid. This action—the Commission’s first approved solar project on state-owned school lands—is a significant milestone.  This lease will help contribute to California’s efforts to achieve its ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and its renewable energy procurement targets.

California Clean Air Day

The Commission adopted a resolution to proclaim October 7, 2020, as Clean Air Day and to encourage residents, businesses, employees, community members, and other governmental entities to take the Clean Air Pledge and participate in this year’s Clean Air Day and do their part to improve air quality. Clean air is imperative for public health. The idea behind this resolution is that by working together, we can clean the air leading up to and on this year’s Clean Air Day. As Dr. Joesph K. Lyou, President and CEO of the Coalition for Clean Air, said: “Everyone has a right to breathe clean air. By raising awareness and actively working to reduce air pollution, every Californian can help ensure every breath you take is a breath of clean air.”  With this action, the Commission joins over 233 scientists, government agencies, businesses, ports and others who have pledged to partner do their part on behalf of air quality. Partnerships, a cornerstone of Clean Air Day, are among the most powerful tools to achieve change.

Ban on new offshore drilling leases and seismic testing

The Commission adopted a support position on federal legislation, H.R. 7608, that would ban new offshore drilling leases and seismic testing. The Commission has adopted numerous resolutions in past years opposing the resumption or expansion of oil and gas development in federal waters. The resolutions, similar to today’s action on the federal legislation, convey the Commission’s view that new federal offshore oil and gas leasing and development threatens the environment and the economy, prevents the Nation from transitioning away from fossil fuels, contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, and adversely affects key economic drivers such as tourism and fisheries.

Other Highlights

The Commission authorized its Executive Officer to seek an environmental consultant to analyze the proposed decommissioning of the Rincon Island and onshore facility, in Ventura County, including stakeholder and public outreach, feasibility studies assessing alternative options, and preparing an environmental document under CEQA. The Commission also accepted and authorized the placement of a memorial plaque in remembrance of the 34 individuals who lost their lives last year aboard the MV Conception on sovereign land in the Pacific Ocean, at Platt’s Harbor in Santa Barbara County.

Future Meetings

The Commission’s next public meeting is October 22 at 1:00 p.m. You can sign up here to receive updates about this and future meetings. You can also stay informed by following the State Lands Commission on Twitter.