By AMY TAXIN
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (AP) — California officials have nixed a proposal for a $1.4 billion desalination plant but say they’re open to growing the state’s capacity to turn Pacific Ocean seawater into drinking water to buffer against persistent drought. After an hours-long hearing, members of a state coastal panel on Thursday unanimously rejected a proposed desalination plant for Southern California over concerns the facility would kill marine life and drive up the cost of water. The plan had the backing of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in his push to combat persistent drought in the state. Commissioners say they don’t oppose desalination but the project would kill large amounts of marine life and could drive up the price for water for Orange County residents.