If there is one thing just about any county resident can agree on, it is that when visiting the beaches of Oxnard, the electrical power plants in Ormond Beach and North Oxnard are eyesores and don’t belong on our coast. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone agrees about what to do with them. So it was a bit surprising when Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, R-Camarillo, authored legislation for state agencies and local authorities to study, evaluate and report back options related to the future of the power plants in Oxnard — and possibly replace one or both of the plants with low-profile, low-carbon-footprint facilities.
It’s not that conservatives don’t also care about the environment, but jobs, taking away jobs, spending more money on something that isn’t necessarily broken seem to be major concerns for them; and shutting down those plants may be counterproductive to those endeavors. Also, in this country that is so polarized politically, if a liberal wants to save or destroy something, conservatives seem to lock-step with just the opposite idea, and vice versa. It was a refreshing change of pace that, for once, the two sides were headed in the same direction on something rather controversial.
Gorell, however, got a wake-up call last week at the Assembly Natural Resources Committee meeting when his bill was shot down. But it wasn’t shot down by a majority of nay votes; he lost the vote because most of the Democrats abstained. It’s hard to tell if these Democrats have some sort of investment in the area that put them in a conflict-of-interest position requiring them to abstain or it was simply a well-intentioned bill and they, perhaps, don’t want Gorell to become discouraged by strong opposition. Whatever the case may be, we lean more toward the latter and feel Gorell should continue with his endeavor to figure out the future options for the power plants. Maybe he will go so far as full restoration of our coastline back to its natural state. But we also feel Gorell needs to do his homework before pressing forward with such legislation — the work he had proposed conducting with his bill had already been under way, though, he did say that the work being done might be insufficient to move forward.
Having cast one the two “no” votes for Gorell’s legislation, Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, was quick with a somewhat snarky comment: “You’ve got to actually accomplish something before you issue a news release.” He went on further to say, “What Jeff wanted for all of us to say was that we’re all going to work together, and then make some kind of public pronouncement. I want to work together to accomplish something. I don’t think it’s right to try to claim credit ahead of time.” We don’t know Gorell that well, but it seems like politics as usual when these kinds of comments are being thrown around. Even if Williams was right, we doubt Gorell would come forward to admit that he wanted to claim credit ahead of time.
In the scheme of things, it’s better to have more people working toward the same cause than for them to be split and fighting against each other. And that goes for Gorell working with the Democrats and organizations associated with the cause so that more of his bills will be passed in the future. With Democrats holding the majority in the legislature, bipartisanship is pretty much mandatory for Republicans. Though there always seems to be some sort of conspiracy behind a party member crossing the line to work with the other side, in this case, we will take what we can get. The power plants have overstayed their welcome and we can work together to get rid of them. It’s time to put down our verbal slings and take advantage of this bipartisan formation.