New Lawsuit Filed Challenging Approval Of Sunrise Powerlink
Groups Sue U.S. Forest Service Over Approval
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Opponents of the Sunrise Powerlink transmission line project filed another lawsuit challenging the project. The new legal challenge questions the approval by the U.S. Forest Service and two other federal agencies.
Opponents of the Sunrise Powerlink transmission line project filed another lawsuit challenging the project.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in the Federal Southern District Court in San Diego. It questions the approval by the U.S. Forest Service and two other federal agencies allowing San Diego Gas and Electric to build the 120-mile long transmission line.
It also questions approval of the project by the Bureau of Land Management and the Fish and Wildlife Service.
San Diego Gas and Electric said the Sunrise Powerlink is needed to bring renewable energy from the Imperial Valley to San Diego County. The project broke ground in September 2010 with some construction yards and existing substation upgrades.
David Hogan with the Protect Our Communities Foundation said the lawsuit also asks that construction to be put on hold until the legal challenges are heard.
"This new lawsuit is the first case brought against the U.S. Forest Service for approving the line across the Cleveland National Forest through extremely delicate lands in a very fire prone landscape," said Hogan.
"And the concern is that the agency never seriously considered the proposed southern route for the Sunrise Powerlink, and never considered harm to natural resources and increased fire risk to communities."
Hogan said the new lawsuit also both supplements and expands an ongoing lawsuit filed by opponents in February 2010.
"The first challenges were filed last winter against the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for their approvals of the project," said Hogan.
"A new report by SDG&E last spring revealed several new and significant impacts on wildfire risk, animal and plant species, cultural resources, visual resources, and local noise levels," said Hogan.
San Diego Gas and Electric spokesman Art Larson said he expected the lawsuit to be dismissed.
"This is the second federal lawsuit filed against the project and we expect the merits of the project will prevail, as they have prevailed in the more than 12 legal challenges that have been filed in the past," said Larson.
Larson said other legal motions to delay the project have been rejected.
"The licensing approval process for the Sunrise Powerlink was the most comprehensive in California history," said Larson. "Five years of testimony, public hearings, public meetings, a formal environmental review; so we fully expect the merits of the project to prevail."