Environmental Justice Communities Claim Huge Victory for
Public Health & Climate
San Diego, CA – Environmental justice communities fighting for renewable energy gained a significant win today. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today voted to deny the contracts for two proposed natural gas power plants in San Diego that are unnecessary for energy reliability and expensive to ratepayers. These power plants would also add air pollution, including greenhouse gases.
The California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA) played a key role in the CPUC proceeding to stop San Diego Gas & Electric’s (SDG&E) proposal for the two plants — Pio Pico Energy Center and Quail Brush Power Plant. CEJA successfully argued that the state must consider energy efficiency and demand response measures (such as reducing consumption during times of peak energy need) before building more power plants. In voting the two plants down, the CPUC determined that San Diego does not need energy from new fossil fuel sources until at least 2018.
CEJA applauds the Commission’s denial of Pio Pico and Quail Brush. Yet, CEJA is extremely concerned that the Commission is finding a need where the facts show no need exists. If there were a need, CEJA trusts that now SDG&E will work with community to meet it with clean renewables that generate jobs for and in our communities.
“This is a huge victory for human health, the environment and clean energy,” said Nicole Capretz of Environmental Health Coalition in San Diego, and a member organization of CEJA. “Now is the time for a paradigm shift. Instead of poisoning communities with more dirty air and dangerous greenhouse gas emissions, the CPUC put us on a clean energy path focused on building energy efficiency and solar first.”
Quail Brush alone would have emitted over 200,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases a year and a significant amount of harmful soot in the air. It was proposed to be located in a designated open space area adjacent to Mission Trail Regional Park and upwind of an elementary school and residential area. Pio Pico was proposed to be located in open space in Otay Mesa in Chula Vista. While these two plants were voted down, the CPUC approved SDG&E’s request to repower the smaller, existing Escondido Repower Facility.
“Climate change is going to hit low-income communities first and worst. We must stop our reliance on fossil fuel and deal with the climate crisis to protect our most vulnerable populations,” said Deborah Behles, Associate Professor and Staff Attorney at the Environmental Law and Justice Clinic, Golden Gate University School of Law.
The California Environmental Justice Alliance is a statewide coalition of community-based groups working to achieve environmental justice by organizing in low-income communities and communities of color – those most impacted by environmental hazards – and pushing for statewide policies that protect public health and the environment. The group fights for energy efficiency and locally-generated renewable energy. Its members are: Asian Pacific Environmental Network; Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice; Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment; Communities for a Better Environment; Environmental Health Coalition; and People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic Rights.
The California Environmental Justice Alliance is represented by the Environmental Law and Justice Clinic at Golden Gate University School of Law. The Environmental Law and Justice Clinic, staffed by law students and professors, advocates to improve environmental conditions in low-income communities and communities of color..