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Judge Considers Challenge To Sunrise Powerlink Tuesday

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Aired 6/20/11

A federal judge Tuesday in San Diego will consider a challenge to the Sunrise Powerlink project.

Opponents of the San Diego Gas and Electric project say a permit to build on federal land should not have been granted.

The first 142-foot Sunrise Powerlink transmission tower was completed March 9, near McCain Valley Road in Boulevard, just north of Interstate 8.

Above: The first 142-foot Sunrise Powerlink transmission tower was completed March 9, near McCain Valley Road in Boulevard, just north of Interstate 8.

The hearing is over a lawsuit challenging the granting of a permit by the Bureau of Land Management allowing SDG&E to build the Sunrise Powerlink on BLM property.

The Protect Our Communities Foundation, Back Country Against Dumps, and the East County Community Action Coalition filed the lawsuit challenging the granting of the permit.

David Hogan with the foundation said the judge has already read the briefs from each side on the case.

"All the paperwork's been done, all the briefs have been filed, all the arguments have been made," said Hogan. "Now the judge wants to hear in person the arguments and he could make a ruling Tuesday or he could make a ruling three months from now.

"What he's going to decide is whether to allow construction of the Sunrise Powerlink across several miles of public land."

Hogan said the route through BLM property would destroy sensitive lands in San Diego County's back country.

But the utility said the Sunrise Powerlink project has already survived at least 12 legal challenges and an intense approvals process.

"SDG&E is confident that both the BLM and the Forest Service made their decisions based on a very extensive and complete record and these legal challenges will be unsuccessful," said SDG&E spokeswoman Jennifer Ramp.

Hogan said the group plans to appeal any decision upholding the BLM permit but he said he is confident the lawsuit will prevail.

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