January 12, 2008

Voices against power path grow

YUCCA VALLEY – Exclamations of dismay rang among the crowd last Saturday night as Dave Miller of the California Desert Coalition presented his renderings of what Green Path North would do to scenic vistas in the Morongo Basin.

Miller superimposed huge transmission towers onto photos of desert panoramas, depicting the lines snaking through canyons and topping buttes.

The Los Angeles Department of Power and Water Green Path North project would carve an 118-mile swath through the desert in order to erect transmission towers up to 200 feet tall on public and private land. The towers would deliver renewable electricity from geothermal, wind and solar sources from the Imperial Valley to Los Angeles.

However, Miller informed the crowd that the infrastructure to support the project has not yet been built.

Eighty-five miles of the transmission lines would traverse a corridor from Desert Hot Springs through environmentally sensitive areas in the Hi-Desert to Hesperia. The process would mean destruction to unspoiled desert, disruption of wildlife corridors and reduced quality of life for human desert dwellers, the California Desert Coalition argues.

Opposition to the plan from the Morongo Basin and surrounding Hi-Desert is growing, Miller said. Communities passing resolutions to take a stand against the project include Yucca Valley, Twentynine Palms, Joshua Tree, Landers, Pioneertown and Lucerne Valley.

Last month, in a resolution proposed by Supervisor Dennis Hansberger, the county board of supervisors voted unanimously to oppose the project.

“The county is very proud of this whole area because of the huge investment that’s been made with the (Morongo Valley) preserve, with the park and with the Wildlands Conservancy holdings,” Miller said. “This area is very well protected, privately and publicly, and for LADWP to brazenly overlook that in its plans to run these power lines through was really a blow to our county representatives.”

Corridor already laid on I-10

According to Miller, though the plan for Green Path North has been in the works for more than two years, the LADWP still claims the process is in its early stages and no route has been decided on. However, the California Desert Coalition’s research has discovered nine survey markers in the Morongo Basin that LADWP continues to disavow, he said.

Several other energy corridors, including along Interstate 10, already exist and, according to Miller, the LADWP already owns a shorter, more direct route. The California Desert Coalition wondered why the power company didn’t use that one.

“The answer we got back is the I-10 is way too crowded, but recently California Desert Coalition co-chair April Sall had a conversation with Southern California Edison, who told April, ‘We have capacity, there’s no problem,’” Miller said. “The problem is, LADWP wants to own this line, they don’t want to do business with SCE.”

The point his coalition is making, Miller explained, is there are existing corridors and alternative routes could be used to deliver the power.

“If we shut this down we’re not shutting down green power, we’re not attacking the whole notion of having renewable energy replacing coal and dirty energy,” he emphasized. “That is not the battle we’re fighting. We’re fighting this particular Green Path North/LADWP project.”

Landfill fighter: Don’t give up

Guest speaker for the evening was Larry Charpied, who, along with his wife, Donna, has continually thwarted plans for the proposed Eagle Mountain Landfill near their home in Desert Center.

The site is surrounded on three sides by Joshua Tree National Park. If built, railroad cars and trucks would deliver 20,000 tons of garbage each day to the site for the next 117 years.

The Charpieds moved to “the middle of nowhere” to start a jojoba farm in 1982, but their idyllic plans were disrupted in the late ’80s when the Kaiser Corporation initiated its plan to develop an old mine site into what would be the world’s largest trash dump. The issue continues to be argued in the federal courts.

The plain-speaking, benign-looking activist recounted the couple’s 20-year battle to protect their home, their lifestyle and the environment. His advice to the CDC: Never give up.

Of note: The trash that would fill the Eagle Mountain Landfill would come from Los Angeles.

Opponent portrays plan as devilish

During the Q-and-A portion of the meeting, coalition volunteer Alana Ponder described an idea that came to her on her daily drive along Twentynine Palms Highway.

Her thought was to build a large sign that would show people what the towers would look like and to serve as a reminder that if nothing is done to stop Green Path North, those lines would forever mar the scenic vistas of the Morongo Basin.

“I’m worried that so many people don’t know it’s coming,” she explained.

Ponder personified her picture of an LADWP tower by giving it eyes, what could be either ears or horns, and an evil demeanor.

Comments from departing audience members were positive and most expressed determination to derail Green Path. Sales of CDC T-shirts and bumper stickers were brisk.

Janice Pask of Yucca Valley said she thought the meeting was informative.

“And I’m glad to see so many people getting involved,” she said.

By Jutta Biggerstaff

Hi-Desert Star

12 January 2008

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2008/01/12/voices-against-power-path-grow/