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Group Files Lawsuit Challenging Sunrise Powerlink

A lawsuit was filed Tuesday in the federal Eastern District Court to stop construction of San Diego Gas and Electric's Sunrise Powerlink transmission line through southern Imperial and San Diego counties.

The lawsuit challenges the January 2009 decision of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to approve the power line.

Three local community groups -- The Protect Our Communities Foundation, Back Country Against Dumps, and East County Community Action Coalition -- filed the lawsuit after the BLM failed to address issues raised in their administrative appeal.

"The Bureau of Land Management totally disregarded laws to protect people and nature when it approved the Sunrise Powerlink," said the group's attorney Stephan Volker, in a news release. "Even the judge presiding over this project with the California Public Utilities Commission agreed with opponents that there's no need for the project to be built anywhere let alone through communities and the Cleveland National Forest."

"As impacted property owners, utility consumers and taxpayers we can't let SDG&E bulldoze their way through our communities, sensitive public lands and our wallets," said Donna Tisdale, president of Backcountry Against Dumps.

"The faux green Sunrise Powerlink is far too expensive in so many ways -- Increased utility rates and the double-whammy impact of the increased threat of fire and interference with firefighting activities," she said.

SDG&E's $2-3 billion Sunrise Powerlink is a 120-mile electrical transmission line that would be constructed from the Imperial Valley to central San Diego County near Poway.

SDG&E said the transmission line is needed to connect with renewable resources in the Imperial Valley.

“We’re confident the BLM made their decisions based on voluminous and complete information. We will of course defend the Sunrise Powerlink and we support the BLM and Fish and Wildlife Service process," said SDG&E spokeswoman Jennifer Briscoe. “Once again, project opponents’ actions are seeking to further delay the customer, economic and environmental benefits of this energy infrastructure project. We’re confident at the end of the day the Sunrise Powerlink project will prevail.”

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