Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, December 8, 2015

Contact:  April Rose Sommer, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 844-7115,
Bill Powers, Protect Our Communities Foundation, (619) 917-2941

Lawsuit Filed to Prevent Another New Dirty Power Plant in Southern California

SAN FRANCISCO— The Center for Biological Diversity and Protect Our Communities have filed a lawsuit to stop construction and operation of a new fossil fuel power plant on the beach in Carlsbad, Calif. The lawsuit, filed late Monday in the California Court of Appeals, challenges the California Public Utilities Commission approval of San Diego Gas and Electric’s application to purchase power from a new $2.6 billion gas plant that will be paid for by the utility’s customers.

“The last thing we need is another dirty power plant polluting our air and water and destroying highly biodiverse and beautiful wildlife habitat,” said April Rose Sommer, staff attorney at the Center. “California has sold itself to the world as a leader in renewable energy, yet it continues to permit one new gas power plant after another, on the backs of California’s people and environment.” 

The proposed gas power plant is located on the beach next to the Agua Hedionda Lagoon, a threatened coastal wetlands home to many endangered and threatened species such as the tidewater goby, California coastal gnatcatcher, least tern and light-footed clapper rail. The power plant will harm an already fragile ecosystem by taking water from the lagoon, increasing threats to native plants from invasive species, and stressing vulnerable wildlife with noise and light pollution. The developer had previously been granted approval to build a similar plant but has now applied for approval of an even dirtier, less-efficient plant using outdated technology.

The lawsuit challenges the utilities commission’s May 2015 approval as procedurally and legally flawed. The commission is required by law to address electricity needs first through energy efficiency, followed by demand response, renewable generation, and finally “conventional” fossil fueled generation. But, based on last-minute, secret negotiations with the project developer and the utility, the utilities commission approved a large gas-fired power plant without considering other options.               
“This case is yet another example of the utilities commission breaking the law by approving fossil fueled generation over required cleaner alternatives,” said Sommer. “The utilities commission continues to fail the trust of the people of California and must do better.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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