February 11, 2011 (San Diego). – Legal troubles are mounting for San Diego Gas and Electric's proposed "Sunrise Powerlink" transmission line with the filing of a new lawsuit this week by three local organizations against California's State Water Resources Control Board. The lawsuit was filed in California State Superior Court in Sacramento.
The lawsuit is the first to challenge a decision by the water board, which plaintiffs claim wrongly certified that Powerlink will not harm downstream water quality and will otherwise comply with the federal Clean Water Act. The lawsuit also alleges that significant harm to wetlands and washes was never adequately addressed in Powerlink environmental documents following the last minute decision to relocate the project from North to South San Diego County.
“The water board also failed to reopen environmental review of the project following SDG&E's disclosure last spring of significant new impacts to waterways in its "Project Modification Report". The board also cynically rejected opponents administrative appeal of its water quality certification on a manufactured technicality,” a press release issued by plaintiffs states.
"Anyone who cares about clean drinking water and a clean ocean has a stake in this fight", said Denis Trafecanty, President of the Protect Our Communities Foundation. "The more land you bulldoze upstream, the more extreme flooding you get downstream, just like what happened to San Diego in December."
"Major expected erosion from new roads, cleared tower pads, and construction yards was never seriously considered in powerlink documents because a final route hadn't even been selected," said Stephan Volker, attorney for the groups. "Due process is also at stake: The water board retroactively changed the date of its decision permitting the project in a fraudulent attempt to reject opponents’ administrative appeal."
"BAD has continuously worked to protect and defend at-risk rural groundwater water resources, including our successful application for federal designation of the Campo / Cottonwood Creek Sole Source Aquifer that Sunrise Powerlink will impact," stated Donna Tisdale, President of Backcountry Against Dumps.
SDG&E’s $2-3 billion Sunrise Powerlink is a major new electrical transmission line that would be constructed from the Imperial Valley to central San Diego County near Poway.
California ratepayers would pay for the 123-mile transmission line consisting of a 500kV main line starting from near El Centro and Mexico to a new substation in the Japatul area east of Alpine. Two smaller 230kV spur lines would connect to San Diego with future plans by SDG&E to extend the 500kV main line north to Riverside through wilderness and communities.
SDG&E did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.
The groups’ lawsuit can be viewed at: http://www.protectourcommunities.org.
The Protect Our Communities Foundation is a non-profit community organization dedicated to the promotion of a safe, reliable, economical, renewable, and environmentally responsible energy future for San Diego County. http://www.protectourcommunities.org.
Backcountry Against Dumps is a non-profit organization, based in Boulevard, whose members and supporters are directly affected by the Sunrise Powerlink, related energy and transmission projects, and the destruction of federal and private land for inappropriate commercial industrial-scale energy development. www.backcountryagainstdumps.org.
The East County Community Action Coalition (“ECCAC”) is a coalition of community groups, individuals and organizations, with the common goal of promoting and preserving the quality of life for residents of eastern San Diego County through coordinated community action. www.EastCountyAction.org.