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For Immediate Release, May 24, 2012

Contacts:   Jonathan Evans, Center for Biological Diversity, (213) 598-1466
Gene Frick, Sierra Club-Santa Ana Mountains Task Force, (951) 977-9257

Controversial Southern California Power-line Project Shut Down

LAKE ELSINORE, Calif.— The California Public Utilities Commission today dismissed a power-line project in Southern California’s Cleveland National Forest that would have severely damaged the environment, wildlife habitat and the area’s rural character. The high-voltage power lines would have cut across roadless wildlands and rural communities in the Santa Ana Mountains between Riverside and Orange counties.  

“This power-line project was an ecological and economic disaster waiting to happen,” said Jonathan Evans of the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s time to finally move on from this boondoggle.”

In rejecting the application, California regulators found that the state “cannot afford to squander its resources on applications that, despite more than 18 months of work, remain vague and speculative as to financing and indeed the project itself.”

The Talega-Escondido/Valley-Serano power-line project dismissed today is part of the controversial Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage Project, or LEAPS, a combination dam and hydropower project. The power-line and hydropower project has been beset with problems since its inception: Opposition has been continuous, while financial and regulatory difficulties have also consistently plagued the scheme. 

Because of the harm it would have done to the area’s natural character, water and wildlife, the plan has been roundly condemned by conservation groups and locals alike; the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, Friends of the Forest and the local community have filed formal protests to the project in state and federal proceedings.

Federal regulators dismissed the LEAPS dam project last year, and the State Water Resources Control Board denied the dam’s water-quality certificate in 2009.

The LEAPS project was also the subject of a grand jury investigation that concluded the project was “not economically viable” and was the result of loose contracting procedures by the local water district. Unfortunately, the failed LEAPS permit process has cost Elsinore Valley’s water district and its ratepayers more than $4 million.

“It’s time to stop wasting stakeholder resources, including taxpayer money, civic energy and even much-needed faith in government,” said Gene Frick of the Sierra Club’s Santa Ana Mountains Task Force. “Nevada Hydro has been feeding too long at the public trough.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 350,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Sierra Club is dedicated to the conservation and preservation of the nation’s natural resources.

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