California regulators on Thursday denied approval for a $1.4 billion plant to remove salt from sea water, a project criticized on environmental grounds but backed by California Governor Gavin Newsom as a necessary tool to counter a sustained drought.

The California Coastal Commission voted 11-0 to reject the proposal by Poseidon Water, a company controlled by the infrastructure arm of Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management, to build the desalination plant in Huntington Beach.

The plant was designed to convert enough Pacific Ocean water into drinking water for 400,000 people, but using a process that staff experts at the commission said would harm marine life and nearby bird habitat while producing water that would be prohibitively expensive for low-income consumers.