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Citizens group seeks funds to battle big energy projects, save groundwater in backcountry  

Credit:  East County Magazine | September 5, 2014 | eastcountymagazine.org ~~

The nonprofit citizens group Backcountry Against Dumps (BAD) has been battling numerous major energy projects proposed in rural East County, including funding lawsuits that seek to halt several with potentially devastating consequences and research studies to support those lawsuits, as well as persuade County planners and other decision makers to reject projects that may deplete water resources, harm wildlife, or have adverse health impacts on residents.

“Right now, we need to raise funds to pay for the professional analysis of Dudek’s groundwater investigations for Soitec Solar and Tule Wind that is underway,” Donna Tisdale, founder of Backcountry Against Dumps, told East County Magazine. Donations can be sent to Backcountry Against Dumps at PO Box 1275, Boulevard, CA 91905 and marked for that purpose.

BAD was founded in the late 1980s and incorporated in 1991 as a 501c4 nonprofit. Originally the organization waged a successful battle to halt a landfill planned by the Campo tribe. BAD has advocated against several proposed projects that were cancelled, including Shu’luuk Wind and another wind project slated in Jewel Valley. The group has filed numerous lawsuits including suits over Sunrise Powerlink, the County wind ordinance, Tule Wind, and battled projects ranging from the ECO substation to a cross-border transmission line.

BAD, along with the county and its public officials, is currently facing litigation from an entity representing developer Greg Lansing. Lansing is suing over projects blocked by the county and BAD on his property in Jewel Valley. Those projects included proposed industrial-scale wind and solar projects and a master-planned housing project that Supervisor Dianne Jacob opposed due to concerns over inadequate water; minutes of Boulevard’s Planning Group meeting indicate the vast majority of residents who came also opposed Lansing’s massive projects in their rural community.

During the current drought, the worst in California history, water is today an even more pressing concern in this rural area that is 100% dependent on groundwater resources. Recently, a hydrology expert, Victor Ponce, at San Diego State University has estimated that Soitec’s four proposed solar projects in Boulevard would use more groundwater than can be replaced through rainfall, putting the entire ecosystem at risk. But Dudek, a consultant hired by Soitec, maintains there is adequate water, as East County Magazine previously reported. Dudek has previously grossly underestimated water use at other projects for developers that paid for the company’s services

Source:  East County Magazine | September 5, 2014 | eastcountymagazine.org

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