Join the Protect Our Communities Foundation in its fight against this ill-conceived and environmentally damaging pipeline proposal!

May 2, 2018

By: Jamie Pang, POC Legal Fellow

SDG&E and SoCalGas’s attempt to saddle San Diego with a dirty, expensive, and unneeded natural gas pipeline was dealt a blow today when California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Judge Collette Kersten issued a proposed decision denying the utilities’ joint application for the construction and operation of the Line 3602 pipeline.   The proposed decision also blocks SDG&E/SoCalGas attempts to evade safety measures for an existing pipeline it claimed Line 3602 was needed to replace, Line 1600.  The proposed decision orders SDG&E/SoCalGas to complete safety pressure tests on Line 1600 and directs PUC staff to conduct an independent audit of the utilities’ pipeline safety records for Line 1600.

As a party to the PUC application proceeding, the Protect Our Communities Foundation (POC) has strongly advocated against the Line 3602 proposal as nothing more than cover for a plan by Sempra, the parent company of SDG&E and SoCalGas, to increase its ability to export American fracked natural gas to a facility Sempra is planning to build in Mexico that will liquefy gas in a highly polluting process and then export it as liquified natural gas (LNG) to Asia.

POC Executive Director and lead attorney on this case, April Maurath Sommer, explains “SDG&E/SoCalGas has attempted to exploit the tragic pipeline explosion in San Bruno by falsely claiming that an existing pipeline had to be replaced with a pipeline over twice the capacity to protect public safety when, in truth, they have always maintained that that existing Line 1600 is safe for use and that there is no need for the additional gas that new  Line 3602 pipeline would supply.  POC is glad to see that Judge Kersten did not fall prey to this blatant fearmongering motivated by greed and self-interest and instead issued a proposed decision that properly takes into account the detrimental effects of proposed Line 3602 on our environment, climate, and pocketbooks.”

Judge Kersten’s proposed decision is based upon the conclusion that there is no safety or need justifying a new pipeline.  She writes, “Applicants have not shown why it is necessary to build a very costly pipeline to substantially increase gas pipeline capacity in an era of declining demand and at a time when the state of California is moving away from fossil fuels.”  She also questions the actions of SDG&E/SoCalGas in regards to safety records stating that “data provided during the proceeding was either incomplete, inaccurate, unverifiable, or untimely.”  The proposed decision affirms every stance that POC has taken against this ill-conceived project.

If approved, Line 3602 would cost well over half a billion dollars – currently estimated at $639 million – paid for with increased utility rates against ratepayers.  As proposed, the pipeline would stretch 47 miles, from the edge of Riverside County, along the I-15 corridor through Poway and Santee and possibly through San Diego’s beloved Mission Trails Park, and through many residential San Diego neighborhoods.  For at least the next five years, SDG&E/SoCalGas intends to continue to run Line 1600 without completing required safety pressure testing while it seeks approval for and then constructs a new line.

The proposed decision will be considered by the five PUC Commissioners for a vote in the next few months.  During this time, the public can and should let the PUC know that it supports Judge Kersten’s thorough and well-reasoned proposed decision.

Take Action!

Write to the PUC – Send a letter or an email with comments on any proceeding.   Public Advisor routes all comments to the assigned Administrative Law Judge and to the Commissioners’ offices.  Please include the proceeding number –  A.15-09-013.

Email: public.advisor@cpuc.ca.gov
Telephone: 1-866-849-8390

Address: California Public Utilities Commission
Public Advisor’s Office
505 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102
Read Brochures on CPUC Processes