A prohibition on the use of coastal waters for power plant cooling has been proposed by the State Lands Commission staff. Earlier this month, the commission planned to vote on a resolution to stop coastal and estuarine waters being consumed in order to cool down turbines at 21 power plants in California. The move is aimed at protecting aquatic and coastal resources. However, strong opposition caused the matter to be put over to the lands commission\u2019s April meeting. The resolution urges the California Energy Commission and the State Water Resources Control Board\u2014which issues pollution discharge permits under the Clean Water Act\u2014\u201cto eliminate once-through cooling from all new and existing power plants in California\u201d after 2020. Controller Steve Westley, who is running for governor, Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante, and director of finance Michael Genest make up the commission. \u201cWe believe that the categorical rejection of all sea water cooling, without careful consideration of the facts . . . and without conducting a robust cost-benefit analysis is unreasonable and contrary to the Commission\u2019s duties to the people of California in administering the public trust lands adjacent to these power stations,\u201d Jesus Arredondo, NRG director of regulatory affairs, wrote in a February 9 letter. NRG has two power plants on the Southern California coast, the Encina and El Segundo projects. El Segundo recently underwent a contentious licensing process at the CEC to allow the upgrade of two units. The Energy Commission\u2019s 2005 Integrated Energy Policy Report recommended that it work with other agencies to minimize the impacts of once-through cooling. Large quantities of fish and larvae are entrained in the 21 facilities, which also include the Diablo and San Onofre nuke plants. Diablo Canyon alone, for instance, consumes and returns 2.5 billion gallons a day of seawater. Cooling water is discharged back to the sea at a higher temperature than normal, harming both flora and fauna. The combined plants at issue represent about 24,000 MW. Working against a possible shutdown of the water-cooled Encina and El Segundo plants, which have reliability-must-run contracts with the grid operator, is that they are an integral part of seawater desalination pilot programs in areas facing increased water supply constraints. In fact, many proposed desalination plants hope to hook up with once-through-cooled power facilities. The San Diego Water Authority, which supplies water to 3 million residents, told the State Lands Commission that the proposed integrated desalination \u201cprojects would play significant roles in the future of the state\u2019s water supply.\u201d It added, \u201cThe use of ocean water is likely to be biologically preferred in contrast to the biological impacts of increased demands on the state\u2019s rivers, streams and groundwater systems\u201d to provide additional water supplies.