Gas Pipeline Threatens Park – Your Action Requested!

View of Mission Trails from East Fortuna Staging AreaSUMMARY:  SDG&E and SoCalGas have applied to the CPUC to build a new natural gas pipeline from Rainbow through MCAS Miramar to Mission Valley. Miramar wants the pipelines to go through Mission Trails Regional Park, East Elliott, and Goodman Ranch INSTEAD OF Miramar. The alternative routes would be a major degradation to our natural areas and a disruption to park visitors and native flora and fauna. They are unacceptable.

KEY ACTION ITEM:  The number one action is to send an email or letter NOW – before the close of public comments on June 12. Your letter should explain why the pipeline should NOT travel through MTRP, East Elliott, or Goodan Ranch.
You may use the sample letter below (copy and paste) or (better) craft your own letter. ***Be sure to add your name and city to the bottom of the sample letter at the bottom of this post.
EMAIL your letter to SDgaspipeline@ene.com OR submit comments online here:  http://sdgaspipeline.cores.ene.com/SubmitComment/

DETAILS:  A 36″ high pressure natural gas “transmission line” is being built from Rainbow to Mission Valley to replace the 70 year-old pipeline currently in use. Unfortunately, Colonel Woodworth, the Miramar CO, wants the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and SDG&E to consider alternative routes that avoid Miramar completely. The two alternative routes would impact MTRP, the Goodan Ranch, and the City of Santee.

SDG&E would like the pipeline to pass through Miramar providing the cheapest and most direct route for this infrastructural upgrade project. However, without action by the affected communities, the alternatives could become reality.

The two alternative routes proposed by SDG&E pass through MTRP and the City of Santee. The first alternative route travels from Poway through the MTRP West Sycamore Area, the Goodan Ranch, the Fanita Ranch property, under Fanita Parkway, turning west under Carlton Oaks Blvd, and terminating at the Rumson Rd Natural Gas Pipeline access point. The second alternative route travels from Poway through East Elliott, down MTRP’s Spring Canyon, through the East Mission Trails Staging Area, under the SR-52/Mast intersection, under the West Hills Pkwy/Mast intersection terminating at the Rumson Rd Natural Gas access point.

Both of these alternatives are unacceptable! SMT will oppose this project through the grassroots methods which we employed to stop the Quail Brush Power Plant! That means YOU taking action NOW. If this Transmission Pipeline is placed in Santee and MTRP, we have strong concerns that another Power Plant proposal will follow.

MORE INFO:  View the CPUC’s PSRP website or SDG&E’s pipeline project website.

ADDITIONAL ACTIONS TO TAKE:
A) ATTEND a PUBLIC SCOPING MEETING to comment in writing or verbally. The May 25 meeting is in San Diego. These meetings provide another opportunity to comment and share info on the proposed project and the environmental review.

The public scoping meetings will be held from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. AND 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., each day, at the following locations:

Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Pala Mesa Resort, Ballroom, 2001 Old Highway 395, Fallbrook, CA 92028

Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Park Avenue Community Center, Auditorium 210 E. Park Ave., Escondido, CA 92025

Thursday, May 25, 2017
Alliant International University, San Diego Campus, Green Hall, 10455 Pomerado Road, San Diego, CA 92131

Project Name: Pipeline Safety and Reliability Project – New Natural Gas Line 3602 and De-rating Line 1600 (PSRP) Environmental Impact Report (EIR) Notification – Legal Notice process.

B) ATTEND the SANTEE CITY COUNCIL MEETING on Wednesday, May 24, 7:00 PM. You may address this issue as a “communication” item. Turn in your speaker slip at the start of the meeting. A vote by the SCC is not planned, as the city already opposes the pipeline project passing through Santee. Regardless, attendance at Wednesday’s SCC meeting is always good, just in case a council member begins to waffle on this issue.

THANK YOU very much for your concern, attention, and ACTION!
~SMT Volunteers

Copy and paste the letter below or write your own comments.
——————————

Robert Peterson
California Public Utilities Commission
RE: Pipeline Safety and Reliability Project
c/o Ecology and Environment, Inc.
505 Sansome Street, Suite 300
San Francisco, CA 94111

RE: Pipeline Safety and Reliability Project (Application No. A.15-09-013)

I oppose both alternative routes of the proposed gas pipeline (Line 3602). Alternative routes through Mission Trails Regional Park and surrounding park expansion areas are not acceptable.

The first proposed alternative would disrupt the use of and degrade Mission Trails Regional Park’s West Sycamore Area including parts of the new Stowe Trail, as well as the Goodan Ranch, and Fanita Ranch. These preserved areas and parklands are used by hundreds of visitors daily. Maintaining the integrity of the preservation of these natural lands is imperative for existing wildlife, flora, and habitat.

The second proposed alternative is equally unacceptable and would degrade Mission Trails’s Spring Canyon and East Fortuna Staging Area, and also East Elliott, part of MTRP’s larger ecosystem. The park and its surrounding expansion area must be protected. A new gas pipeline does not belong in these natural habitats which are used recreationally by park visitors.

Please drop or oppose these alternative routes. Thank you.

###

Ding-Dong! Quail Brush is Dead! “Undeniably and reliably dead.”

We did it! You did it! Cogentrix withdrew! All proceedings for Quail Brush Power Plant are terminated. We won!

With every letter, rally, meeting, and donation, we fought hard to protect our park, communities, health, quality of life, and the planet. Folks like you, of all political stripes, united and said NO to Quail Brush. We joined efforts with many outstanding organizations (see list of supporters) and became a formidable alliance. Our coalition said NO to an immensely expensive taxpayer-funded project for energy which the Public Utilities Commission ruled was not needed. We said NO to industrializing open space near Mission Trails Park, grading hills and destroying wildlife and tranquility. We said NO to an unhealthy polluting gas plant in a high-fire zone just a stone’s throw from schools, homes, hospitals, and neighborhood playgrounds. We said NO to more fossil fuel in Southern California. And we are saying YES to rooftop solar and community choice aggregation (CCA).

On September 12, Cogentrix requested to withdraw the application for Quail Brush. Docketed on September 15, 2014, the California Energy Commission ordered termination for all proceedings on the plant. Victory! Power to the People!

Our first mission is complete. Our second mission is to protect Mission Trails and the East Elliott open space area from future encroachment. Save Mission Trails will continue to monitor and to raise funds to make sure this never happens again. Stay with us. And THANK YOU for caring and taking the effort to keep our world clean and green.

CEC Order to Terminate QB

Power Plant Application is Suspended for Second Time…and Continues to Fester

On April 24, 2014, the California Energy Commission (CEC) ordered that all proceedings on the Cogentrix application for certification (AFC) for the Quail Brush power plant bordering Mission Trails Park and Santee are on hold until April 15, 2015. While the plant cannot move forward for another year, (unless Cogentrix files a motion to revive the AFC sooner and the CEC approves this motion), no evidentiary hearings will take place this year that would have likely terminated this ill-conceived fossil fuel project once and for all.

Concerned citizens, including several elected officials, created a powerful response opposing the suspension and requesting the application be vacated, which was duly noted by the CEC. THANK YOU for your strong support. Community members like you are the David’s of this David and Goliath battle. The preservation of our beloved Mission Trails Regional Park and East Elliott Open Space area – and the health of our neighboring communities – Santee, Tierrasanta, Lakeside, El Cajon, Poway, La Mesa, San Diego – need your continued attention and diligence on the Quail Brush power plant issue.
STAY WITH US!

You can read the details of the CEC second-year suspension here. Or go to the CEC Docket Log and scroll down to TN# 202228. Letters of opposition, petitions against the gas power plant, and other important project documents are archived here as well.

Join SMT on EXPLORE MISSION TRAILS DAY in Mission Trails Regional Park
Sat, May 17, 2014, 8 AM – 3 PM
 The Save Mission Trails booth will be in the East Fortuna (Equestrian) Staging Area near Mast Blvd. and Rt. 52.
Connecting Children with Nature is the theme of this year’s event. Explore Mission Trails Day activities include free guided nature walks, pony rides for kids, live animals and educational programs for all ages, food for purchase, a climbing wall, nature discovery stations, and more. Email savemissiontrails@gmail.com if you are interested in helping out on this fun day. Wear an orange shirt or hat to identify yourself as a friend of SMT.

Below are photos of the Save Mission Trails booth at EarthFair 2014 in Balboa Park.

securedownload-3
Signing up to speak out against graded hills, fire danger, noise, visual blight, & pollution next to Mission Trails Regional Park
SMT at EarthFair 2014
Learning about the continued threat of the 11-acre gas plant with 11 smoke stacks proposed in an open-space / residential zone

Milestones in the fight to stop the power plant. Cogentrix pushes pause button, but don’t get too comfortable.

Celebrate our victories, but stay vigilant for the sake of our park, our communities, and our health. Currently, the Quail Brush Power Plant bordering Mission Trails Regional Park and Santee is in a one-year suspension. Scroll down to read more about what a suspension means, what happens next, and for photos of recent events.

Milestones
August 29, 2011 – Cogentrix files application (AFC) for Quail Brush power plant (QB) with CA Energy Commission (CEC). With a few exceptions, the general public is not notified.
January 3, 2012 – Randomly attending a bimonthly Mission Trails Park meeting, a Santee resident learns of plans for QB and begins movement to alert citizenry.
March 12, 2012 – Stop the Santee Power Plant Rally informs hundreds during morning rush hour and alerts the media.
March 28, 2012 – Santee City Council unanimously passes a resolution opposing QB.
May 29, 2012 Save Mission Trails incorporates.
Spring 2012 and continuing on – Thousands sign petitions, send letters, attend rallies and workshops. A strong coalition of environmental groups and local representatives both Democrat and Republican take a stand against QB.
July 19, 2012 – San Diego Planning Commission votes 4 to 1 rejecting re-zoning of open space land around park for power plant.
September 4, 2012 – Santee School District votes 4 to 1 to oppose QB.
September 24, 2012 – San Diego City Council unanimously denies Cogentrix’ appeal of Planning Commission’s decision.
December 18, 2012 – San Diego Mayor Bob Filner submits letter to CPUC opposing new fossil fuel plants and affirming a vision for the city to be a leader in better alternatives.
March 21, 2013 – CPUC unanimously denies SDG&E power purchase agreement for QB.
March 21, 2013 – Mission Trails Regional Park Task Force unanimously votes to officially oppose QB.
April 16, 2013 – CEC approves Cogentrix request for one-year suspension of QB.

The one-year suspension of Quail Brush will expire on April 15, 2014. Cogentrix needs to either wait until the expiration date or file a motion with the CEC to revive its review of the AFC sooner than April 16, 2014. If the CEC grants the motion, Cogentrix can restart at any time.

What happens when the suspension expires? Is the project canceled or automatically active? According to Eric Solorio, CEC project manager for QB, “My reading of the Order is staff will resume its review of the AFC on April 16, 2014.”

What now? Stay connected with Save Mission Trails. We remain active in the community to continue to get the word out about Cogentrix’ ill-conceived gas plant in a designated open space area, high fire-hazard zone, close to schools, residents, and the beautiful and peaceful (for now) Mission Trails.

Filner & SMT at EarthFair
Mayor Filner at SMT Booth, EarthFair, Balboa Park, April 21, 2013
EarthFair photo #2
Over 1,000 petitions opposing QB signed at EarthFair, April 21, 2013.
Dale at SMT party
Santee Councilmember Jack Dale addresses SMT celebration gathering, April 26, 2013.
SMT kids and cake!
SMT kids eat cake! Celebrating our victories….and looking to the future, April 26, 2013.
Explore MTRP Day
Explore Mission Trails Day at MTRP Equestrian Center (adjacent to proposed power plant site), May 18, 2013
MTRP Day Photo #2
Kids want clean air! Young citizens sign statements of opposition to a power plant by the park, May 18, 2013.

Thanks for your support. Let’s work together to keep our energy green and the air clean!

Biker in MTRP

Fire Danger! What’s the Impact Zone of an Explosion at the proposed gas power plant? Applicant: No response.

Fire Safety 101:  Don’t build a fossil fuel GAS power plant in a high fire-hazard zone.
(Scroll to bottom to view “What can I do to help stop this power plant?“)

John Gibbins aerial photo of 2003 fire around Scripps Ranch area.
Aerial of 2003 Cedar Fire around Scripps Ranch area taken by John Gibbins/Union-Tribune.

Will our communities, homes, and our lives be protected? The City of Santee has stated it refuses to provide any emergency services to the power plant. The only response would be from San Diego, which has also opposed the project. Therefore, according to the California Energy Commission (CEC), to meet the local regulations and standards (LORS), a fire would need to be impossible, the risk zero. Really? Zero fire risk? Residents in San Diego and East County know all too well, this won’t be the case!

Required vs. Actual response times for San Diego Fire Stations to the proposed plant site:
Fire Response Times Chart
At the October 19, 2012, CEC Public Workshop, San Diego Deputy Chief Doug Perry stated the “drawdown” of emergency response resources and extended response times by the Fire Dept. are significant. We “can’t get there as quick as CityGate rules say that we should.” He continued, “It will take longer and the fires will potentially be larger.”

The applicant CoGentrix said that to bridge this time gap, they will create a “shelter in place” with breathing apparatus for the workers. Perry agreed it could be safer to keep the workers in the structure and let a wildlands fire go around it. SMT volunteer Sonja Ramos, who lives close to the proposed site, noted this shelter will be of no help to her and other local residents, though.

Photo from CEC Workshop 10/19/12 fire discussion
Deputy Fire Chief Perry and SMT volunteer and local resident Sonja Ramos discuss fire impacts at the Oct. 19, 2012 CEC Wksp, while Ziebart, hired lobbyist and applicant mgr. for CoGentrix (left), looks on.

Perry says he won’t put his people at risk if the plant itself has a fire. This is understandable due to high voltage and other dangerous issues. SDGE would have to come first and de-energize the plant. Perry notes that this will take awhile as in the recent case of fire in a Kearny Mesa facility. The fires burned for nearly three hours before being considered safe for fire crews to enter and do their job.

The cul-de-sac of the cul-de-sac…
At the CEC meeting, the public learned that CalFire and US Forest Service would not be dispatched until it was considered a 3rd or 4th alarm fire and only if the fire is on wildland (not within the plant facility). Perry said that in the San Diego area, we don’t always get the resources we need. “We’re the cul-de-sac of the state.” Yes, and many of us live in the cul-de-sac of a neighborhood with only one escape route. About 1,000 residents in three townhome/condo complexes live in the cul-de-sac area near Bushy Hill/Simeon Drive less than a mile southwest.  It’s unlikely residents will be able to effectively evacuate when there is only one escape route.

What if there is a natural gas explosion at the site…or another Santa Ana-wind driven fire like those of 2003 and 2007?

Santa Ana conditions are common in San Diego. Here, the 2003 Cedar Fire jumps Interstate 15.
Santa Ana conditions are common in San Diego. The October 2003 Cedar Fire jumped Interstate 15 and burned through major parts of Mission Trails Regional Park and Tierrasanta. Photo by CHARLES STARR / Union-Tribune

Communities at the west end of Santee and the West Hills High School are within 800 yards of the site. Fire Chief Perry stated that fires would be past the plant within five to ten minutes at the most.

Going up in smoke…..
A homeowner less than a mile south of the power plant site has been denied insurance on her condo by both Ameriprise and the Automobile Club (Triple A). She called Ameriprise to get specifics about her denial and was told, “It’s because of being in a fire zone.” Ameriprise utilizes “risk meter.com” (a member site used by insurance companies to determine insurance risk) and Google Maps. The company told her the area is extremely high risk, and that underwriters would not insure her condo or any other properties within 500 feet of a fire zone. Another homeowner living near Medina St. east of the proposed plant told SMT, “My husband and I were denied home insurance by Wawanesa Insurance Group due to the fire zone at Mission Trails Regional Park.”

So, if homeowners can’t get insurance due to proximity to a designated fire zone, why should a gas-powered plant covering 11+ acres within this zone get a green light? And how will a gas power plant impact the residents of the surrounding area? Residents worry about insurance coverage and rate increases compounding property value loss.

Unusual and fierce…
San Diego is known for its unusual and fierce wildlfire conditions. Santa Ana conditions produce winds blowing sometimes over 100 mph. Once started, fires are difficult if not impossible to stop in winds more than 25 mph, and fires are commonly blown up and down hillsides. The result is very fast spreading fires that typically get out of control quickly. One good spark and we’re all up in smoke.

The fire moves south down Oak Canyon toward the 52 freeway. Photo by Charles Starr.
A fire moves south down through Oak Canyon / East Elliott toward the 52 freeway. Photo by Charles Starr.

Additionally, brush fires in and along Mission Trails and East Elliott Open Space are common, especially along Highway 52. Locals (like myself) are used to seeing a few every year, with many started from car sparks or cigarettes thrown out car windows.

At the workshop, the applicant and the CEC tried to assure us that we are safe from fires and that fires in these types of power plants are rare. Meanwhile, CEC staff recommended that CoGentrix hire and train their own in-house fire brigade and have an onsite EMT. Our reply: We won’t take this risk.

Just recently in the news: “A natural gas power plant at Miramar remained offline this week after a weekend fire. Plant operator NRG Energy still is evaluating when its generator may return to service, said company spokeswoman Lori Neuman. An adjacent power plant run by San Diego Gas & Electric briefly had its fuel supply cut off as a result of the fire. The blaze broke out Saturday at about 6:15 p.m. at the plant on Consolidated Way north of the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station. Flames soared 30 feet into the air.”

CEC Fire Safety Expert says there is no risk of fires from the pipeline due to strict Federal regulations of new pipelines. Here’s a list of some pipeline accidents resulting in fires. We’re sure the folks living near the San Bruno gas power plant explosion in 2010 had also been reassured that there was no danger.

What can I do to help stop this power plant? 1) Click for easy instructions to email and add your name to the growing army of opposition against this not-needed fossil fuel plant. It’s critical each one of us does this. Strong public opposition can help sway the state commissioners into making the correct decision for our communities and park and/or 2) Come to a SMT meeting to get more info and find out about volunteering. Thank you!

Save the Date! Next CEC Wksp is Friday, Oct.19, 1pm with 6pm public comment time at Grossmont College

Fall beauty in Mission Trails Regional ParkYou are needed–Yes, Again!!at the California Energy Commission (CEC) Public Workshop #4 on Quail Brush. Attend and make sure our dedication and thoughtful local zoning laws are NOT bulldozed over by this state agency. The citizens of San Diego and Santee know what’s best for our communities, our park, our health, and the environment. Say NO to the not-needed fossil-fuel power plant. Keep our community green and clean!

DATE / TIME: Friday, Oct. 19, 1 pm; public comment time starting at 6 pm
(See below for free parking permit.)
TO DO: When you enter, write your note of opposition on a form to be posted in the public record.
NOTE: If you can’t come for the whole day, DO show up when you can. The public comment time is scheduled to continue until everyone who wants to speak or ask a question, does so. (Scroll down to see link below for how to participate remotely if you can’t attend.)
LOCATION: Grossmont College, 8800 Grossmont College Drive, El Cajon, 92020, off the 125, Building 60 – Griffin Center (in front, southeast corner). For a campus map, directions, and free parking pass, click here. Parking is easy and plentiful on Fridays.

Mission Trails' beautiful hillsPer the CEC: The workshop is held to  provide a public forum for staff, the applicant, intervenors, the public, and interested agencies to discuss issues related to the project. Technical areas to be discussed: Soil & Water Resources, Biological Resources, Fire, Noise, and Visual Resources. The public can ask questions and comment about the project and the staff’s environmental review.

Public comments and questions will be accepted at 6 p.m. Additional opportunities for public comment may be provided at other times during the workshop as the parties work through the scheduled topics. The workshop will end after the comment period.

TO PARTICIPATE FROM WORK/HOME: Arrangements have been made for people unable to attend the workshop to participate by telephone and/or by computer.
WebEx and Conference Call-in-toll-free number: 1-866-469-3239
Access code: 926819370
Meeting Password: meeting@1
For details, click here and scroll to page 4-5.

Thank you all for your persistence. We will prevail with everyone’s continued efforts.