By Miriam Raftery
May 27, 2009 (Washington D.C.) –David J. Hayes, a former lobbyist for Sempra Energy/SDG&E, has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. His nomination proceeded after an earlier block by Republican Senators from Alaska over oil and gas leases was lifted. Both California Senators, Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein, voted in favor of Hayes’ nomination.
Leading opponents of Sunrise Powerlink have expressed fear that Hayes would push forward federal approval of the high-voltage power line project through San Diego and Imperial Counties, since the last remaining sector needing approval is on federal lands in the Cleveland National Forest.
In an article titled “Obama: Waiting for the Sunrise”, the San Diego Reader offered this analysis of the battle now looming:
What began as a local backcountry struggle over San Diego Gas & Electric’s proposed Sunrise Powerlink is now a national issue, one that opponents of the project hope will challenge a key energy strategy of the Obama administration.
…The issue boils down to where the priorities will lie in developing clean renewable energy: Will the nation build a vast and expensive new network of transmission lines like Sunrise to reach remotely sited energy projects, with much of that infrastructure to be built on heretofore pristine federal lands?
Or will the United States emphasize the development of so-called distributed generation, which consists of rooftop solar and small wind farms close to cities, along with energy-efficiency programs to reach environmental targets and slow global warming?
The Obama administration is placing its bet on the former — long new power lines and big renewable projects on remote lands. The administration has also reportedly elevated Sunrise to key project status, according to a representative of San Diego Gas & Electric. And Obama is allocating billions from the stimulus package for “smart grid” development, which many fear involves building a larger transmission system that will reach into previously undeveloped areas.