EPA Chief: California Blackouts Spilled 50,000 Gallons of Raw Sewage into Oakland Estuary

Oakland Estuary (Brian Cantoni / Flickr / CC)
Brian Cantoni / Flickr / CC

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler noted late last week that California’s recent blackouts had caused 50,000 gallons of raw sewage to be spilled into the Oakland estuary.

Wheeler delivered a speech at the Nixon Presidential Library to commemorate the passage of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), which Nixon signed into law, creating the EPA.

In his address, Wheeler argued that the Trump administration had fulfilled the EPA’s true purpose by focusing on cleaning up the environment, rather than “single issue advocacy” on the issue of climate change “to virtue-signal to foreign capitals.”

He cited the sewage spill as an example of how the contemporary environmentalist movement had lost focus. California has shifted rapidly to solar and wind power, in pursuit of a statutory goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045.

However, solar and wind power proved inadequate in last month’s blackouts, which threatened to recur in the state’s most recent heat wave.

Wheeler said:

And there are many examples of poor environmental outcomes here in California, despite its environmental reputation.

It should go without saying that dumping sewage into San Francisco Bay without disinfection, indeed without any chemical or biological treatment, is a bad idea, but that’s what been happening for many years, against federal law.

And just last month, the rolling blackouts created by California’s latest electricity crisis – the result of policies against power plants being fueled by natural gas – spilled 50,000 gallons of raw sewage into the Oakland Estuary when back-up wastewater pumps failed.

As state policymakers push more renewables onto the grid at times of the day when renewables aren’t available, these environmental accidents will happen more often.

At the time, CBS San Francisco reported:

The spill occurred after power outages between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., ordered by the California Independent System Operator, caused a pump to fail, EBMUD said Saturday.

“This power outage caused failure of major equipment at the wastewater plant, including the ability for EBMUD to generate its own power on site,” according to a statement from EBMUD on Saturday. “Power outages like this are quite uncommon. During PSPS events we normally get notice, but this outage occurred very quickly.”

In his speech, Wheeler touted President Trump’s environmental achievements:

Under President Trump, we have done this as well, if not better, than any recent administration.

  • During the first three years of the Trump Administration, air pollution in this country fell 7 percent.

  • Last year, EPA delisted 27 Superfund sites, the most in a single year since 2001.

  • And agency programs have contributed more than $40 billion dollars to clean water infrastructure investment during President Trump’s first term.

He outlined what he said would be the Trump administration’s environmental priorities in a second term:

  • Creating a Community-Driven Environmentalism that Promotes Community Revitalization.
  • Meeting the 21st Century Demands for Water.
  • Reimagining Superfund as a Project-Oriented Program.
  • Reforming the Permitting Process to Empower States.
  • And, Creating a Holistic Pesticide Program for the Future.

He noted that the EPA had also adopted a new cost-benefit rule for measuring the impact of every new environmental rule.

Trump also delivered a speech on his administration’s environmental record on Tuesday in Florida, announcing a moratorium on offshore drilling on Florida’s Atlantic coast.

Republicans have pointed to California’s failing energy policies as a warning about the policies sought by Democratic Party presidential candidate Joe Biden, who has embraced an even more ambitious goal of reaching 100% renewables by 2035.

His running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), has called her home state’s energy policies a “model” for the nation.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

Photo: file

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