FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
San Francisco, CA June 21, 2018
Taking an important step in the right direction towards weaning California off its fossil fuel addiction, the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted unanimously today to deny an application by utility giants SDG&E and SoCalGas to construct a 47 mile dirty, expensive, and unneeded natural gas pipeline through San Diego County – the Line 3602 pipeline. The decision also prioritizes public safety over private corporate gain by preventing SDG&E/SoCalGas from further evading safety measures for an existing pipeline, Line 1600, that runs through metro San Diego. The decision orders SDG&E/SoCalGas, subsidiaries of Sempra Energy, 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 a new pipeline and for compliance with pipeline safety laws. The decision affirms every stance that POC has taken against this ill-conceived project. POC’s advocacy revealed this application to be nothing more than a cover for a plan to increase export of American fracked natural gas to a facility Sempra Energy is planning to build in Mexico to export liquefied natural gas to Asia.
“POC is thrilled that the PUC has made the right decision in denying the pipeline and ordering safety testing of the existing pipeline. The denial of a new fossil fuel pipeline is a win for our climate, the wildlife and wildlands of San Diego, and ratepayers,” said POC Executive Director and lead attorney on this case, April Maurath Sommer. “The decision represents a rare victory over investor owned utility greed and disregard for public safety and Administrative Law Judge Kersten and all of the PUC Commissioners are to be commended for standing up for our climate and the safety of California’s citizens and environment.”
This Commission decision is based upon the conclusion that there is no safety or need justifying a new pipeline. In the decision, the PUC 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.” The actions of SDG&E/SoCalGas in regards to its safety records are also appropriately questioned: “data provided during the proceeding was either incomplete, inaccurate, unverifiable, or untimely.”
If approved, Line 3602 was would have cost at least $639 million – paid for with increased utility rates – and would have stretched 47 miles from the edge of Riverside County, along the I-15 corridor through Poway and Santee, likely through beloved Mission Trails Park, and through many residential San Diego neighborhoods. For at least the next five years, SDG&E/SoCalGas intended to run Line 1600 without completing required safety pressure testing while it sought approval for and then constructed an additional pipeline.