Center for Biological Diversity
BECAUSE LIFE IS GOOD

Protecting endangered species and wild places through
science, policy, education, and environmental law.

For immediate release: March 3, 2006

Contact:
David Hogan, Center for Biological Diversity, (760) 809-9244
Kelly Fuller, Sierra Club, (619) 933-9969

Groups question California park agency’s apparent approval of Sunrise Powerlink through Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

San Diego, Calif. – Three conservation groups have sent a letter to the California Department of Parks and Recreation questioning the agency’s apparent decision to allow San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) to construct the “Sunrise Powerlink” through the heart of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The letter was sent by the California Wilderness Coalition, Center for Biological Diversity, and Sierra Club to Ruth Coleman, director of the parks department.

Documents discovered by the Border Power Plant Working Group and shared with the conservation groups appear to indicate that the Department of Parks and Recreation approved the Powerlink at least as early as February 2005. According to comments by Parks representative Dave Lawhead as recorded in minutes from the February 10, 2005 Imperial Valley Study Group’s Transmission Planning Collaborative, “[State Parks] has worked out an agreement with SDG&E to put a new 500 kilo-volt line from San Felipe through Anza-Borrego State Park using the corridor of an existing low voltage line.”

“The primary purpose of our letter is to get a straight answer from the Parks department on whether they’ve approved an awful industrial project through a cherished state park,” said David Hogan, director of the Urban Wildlands Program for the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’ve discovered some disturbing evidence and want to hear the agency’s side of the story.”

In the event the Parks department did OK the line, the letter also asks how this decision is consistent with the mission of the park to preserve natural and cultural resources and support quality environmental recreation. In the event the Parks department did not approve the line, the letter requests information on how this decision might be made in the future.

“In a way we hope that the source document is inaccurate,” said Kelly Fuller of the Sierra Club. “How could it be true that the Parks department approved a massive new transmission line through Anza-Borrego before any due process, before any required environmental analysis, and before public notification?”

The Sunrise Powerlink is a major new large-capacity transmission line proposed for construction from the Imperial Valley to the north coastal City of San Diego through many communities, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the Cleveland National Forest, and the San Diego Multiple Species Conservation Plan preserve.

SDG&E’s claims that the new line is necessary to improve energy reliability and to deliver renewable energy are refuted by independent energy experts, consumer groups and environmentalists who believe the line is intended primarily to move imported power from Sempra Energy facilities in Mexico and Arizona to increase the company’s market power in southern California.

A pdf copy of the conservation group’s letter is available by request to Kelly Fuller: k.d.fuller@sbcglobal.net.

For more information, see the Center for Biological Diversity's Sunrise Powerlink website.

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