POWERLINK CLEARS HURDLES AT STATE AND FEDERAL LEVELS
Supervisor Jacob accuses "so-called regulators" of "deliberately covering up the monumental fire danger posed by this line"
By Miriam Raftery
September 24, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) –The California Public Utilities Commission and the federal Bureau of Land Management have refused requests for additional environmental review from opponents of the controversial Sunrise Powerlink high-voltage transmission line.
Supervisor Diane Jacob, who represents the East County communities where Powerlink construction is planned, blasted the decision. This isn’t a review. It’s a rubber stamp,” she said. “In addition to ignoring glaring errors identified by the County, the so-called regulators have deliberately covered up the monumental fire danger posed by this line.”
She accused regulators of refusing to use accurate fire data, adding, “That’s appalling. In the end, nothing can change the determination made in the project’s original environmental document. It is a fact that Sunrise is classified as an unmitigable fire risk of the highest level. The line is a hazard to fire crews and will keep aerial assets from making targeted drops when fires are small. Knowing what we know about our fire-prone backcountry, it is unconscionable for anyone to support placing an impediment like Sunrise in the way of firefighters.”
New of the decision was revealed in a letter dated yesterday to San Diego Gas & Electric's Alan Colton, signed by Billie Blanchard, Sunrise Power Manager for the CPUC’s Energy Division CEQA unit. “The CPUC and BLM have completed our extensive review of the SDG&E Project Modification Report (PMR) submitted on May 14, 2010,” he wrote. “After review of the project modifications, as documented in the Determination Memorandum and the BLM Determination of NEPA Adequacy (attached) and in accordance with the CEQA and NEPA guidelines, the CPUC and BLM have determined that the changes to the Sunrise Project are within the scope of the CPCN and the Record of Decision. Along with this finding, the CPUC and BLM have determined that no additional CEQA or NEPA work is required.”
Donna Tisdale, spokesperson for community groups fighting legal battles to halt the Powerlink, offered these comments upon learning of the decision last night. ““Our grassroots coalition of Backcountry Against Dumps, The Protect Our Communities Foundation, and East County Community Action Coalition, had expected this decision and planned accordingly,” she said. “We believe that the major changes in the PMR, and the inadequate underlying EIR/EIS that we have challenged in federal court, demand additional environmental review and public comment. We hope to secure that through our attorney.”