Calling on all San Diegans to unite in resisting the construction of Natural Gas Pipeline 3602!
By Stephanie Corkran / SanDiego350
The construction of Pipeline 3602 (PL 3602) prolongs antiquated and maladaptive technology that flies in the face of reason. This project is being pushed by purely profit-motivated business executives trapped in the past. Their primary concern is certainly not the welfare of San Diegans.
The consensus of 15,000 scientists worldwide is that we have limited time to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions or we jeopardize our very existence. We must begin a radical decline in carbon emissions by no later than 2020 to have any chance of preventing the worst effects of climate change. That radical decline entails, among other things, stopping any new infrastructure that perpetuates the fossil fuel economy. This includes PL 3602.
Aside from the climate effects of facilitating burning more fossil fuels, building PL 3602 would be expensive and put peoples’ health at increased risk because of the effects on air quality from burning natural gas. And the proposed alternate routes would infringe upon our precious open space.
- Derate an existing 16-inch gas pipeline (PL 1600) – changing it from a transmission to a distribution pipeline
- Build a new 47-mile 36-inch gas pipeline (PL 3602) between Miramar and Rainbow in San Diego County as a replacement transmission line for PL 1600.
The existing PL 1600 would continue to operate at reduced pressure after construction of PL 3602.
Primary Proposed route
The proposed new pipeline would be located in San Diego County and cross: the cities of Escondido, San Diego, and Poway; unincorporated communities in San Diego County; and federal land (MCAS Miramar).
Alternate Proposed routes
Alternate routes are identified because of mounting resistance by affected communities and the Miramar military command.
The first alternate route goes from Poway through the 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 alternate route goes from Poway through East Elliott, down Mission Trail Regional Park’s Spring Canyon, through the East Mission Trails Staging Area, under the SR-52/Mast Boulevard intersection, under the West Hills Pkwy/Mast Boulevard intersection terminating at the Rumson Road Natural Gas access point.
Demand for natural gas is declining, so we don’t need increased carrying capacity. In fact, this project may well be a ploy to enable export of natural gas via Sempra’s proposed liquefied natural gas export facility near Ensenada — after transit through our region.
Also, SDG&E states the existing PL1600 pipeline is safe. So why replace it? Though it was built in 1949, its age is not out of the norm of operating pipelines in this country. The existing pipeline can continue to be reliable with pressure testing and maintenance. (See The Role of Pipeline Age in Pipeline Safety pages 7, 8 and 16-18)
San Diego already has some of the most expensive energy in the country. The price tag of $600 million would be an additional cost passed on to ratepayers for an unneeded project that has been designed to increase the profits of Sempra Energy.
The Sierra Club filed a protest of PL 3602 with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in April 2016 and remains a party to the hearing process. According to the filing, “California ratepayers should not foot the bill for costly new fossil fuel infrastructure investments that are, or will soon become, stranded assets, and whose benefits appear primarily intended to flow to Sempra’s unregulated subsidiaries.”
Any funds would be better spent on fast-tracking clean energy infrastructure. Spending our money to build fossil fuel infrastructure rather than support green energy production is wrong.
Jeopardizing local & State climate goals
The city of San Diego’s Climate Action Plan is legally binding and construction of this pipeline with potential increased reliance on fossil fuels could derail mandated benchmarks. To borrow the terminology of the Climate Mobilization Coalition, we need an effort similar to the WWII homefront mobilization efforts in order to transform our society to clean energy.
The statewide goal of reaching 50 percent renewable energy by 2050 requires that all stakeholders, including SDG&E, work towards that goal. All new projects at this point need to be clean energy projects.
San Diego also should not be supporting anything that worsens our already bad air quality by fostering the continued burning of fossil fuels. Natural gas is not “clean” energy. Nobody wants this in their neighborhood because when a natural gas pipeline ruptures it is much more volatile than an oil spill.
As recently seen in Montecito, natural gas lines can rupture and ignite during mudslides occurring in the aftermath of a wildfire. Even if a rupture in the pipeline is not ignited (with possible destructive explosion and starting a wildfire) there is still a risk to communities. As we have seen the Aliso Canyon natural gas leak has plagued residents in that area with a multitude of adverse health effects.
Jeopardizing protected open space and wildlife
Save Mission Trails opposes construction of PL 3602 within Mission Trails Regional Park (MTRP). One of the alternate routes would go through MTRP. The other would go through Goodan Ranch/Sycamore Canyon County Preserve. We cannot allow the disruption of wildlife habitat in these parks that construction of the pipeline would cause, never mind the potential destruction of habitat in the event of a pipeline rupture.
While not frequently considered in our current law, there is a burgeoning movement to recognize the “rights” of non-human animals/wildlife to air, water, space and a natural life; and also the rights of nature to not be co-opted for human-only uses. The “rights” of all human residents to open spaces is also a priority, with destruction and degradation of open space cited in climate change lawsuits being filed against fossil fuel companies.
Decision with the California Public Utilities Commission
The CPUC is currently reviewing this project to determine if PL 3602 is needed and if the cost of the project should be passed on to ratepayers. The project was not transparently advertised, the public open comment period (May 9, 2017 to June 12, 2017) has already passed and there is little public awareness about this wrong-headed scheme.
The decision of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in the case (Colette Kersten) is tentatively due in April 2018. The ALJ’s proposed decision will be subject to a public comment period. After that public comment period, the CPUC Commissioners will vote. The CPUC Commissioners’ vote does not have to agree with the ALJ. The outcome of the vote will determine whether approval is granted to construct the proposed project.
Let’s Fight PL 3602 and Win!
We have successfully fought new natural gas infrastructure in San Diego in the past – including when, along with our allies, we stopped the plans for Quail Brush Power plant on the eastern edge of Mission Trails Regional Park from going ahead. We can repeat that success with PL 3602. But we need your help.
Make your voice heard!
Get involved and make your voice heard! Here are some of the things you can do to help fight PL 3602:
Address: California Public Utilities Commission
Public Advisor’s Office
505 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102
- Send a letter or email to your councilmember
Correction: The original article stated that “CPUC Office of Ratepayer Advocates state the existing PL1600 pipeline is safe”. ORA provided clarifcation that they have not stated that Line 1600 is safe. Instead, ORA has identified multiple concerns regarding SoCalGas/SDG&E’s failure to operate the pipeline in compliance with certain safety requirements. ORA has recommended pressure testing, and reducing the maximum pressure on Line 1600, as measures to enhance the safety of Line 1600. Please note that ORA also has filed a protest regarding Line 3602.
Stephanie Corkran, MA, is an anthropologist who works in research at UCSD and a volunteer of SD350.org. She is a Coast Guard veteran who enforced environmental law and responded to oil and hazardous material spills, including the Exxon Valdez oil spill. She supports a vision of social justice that considers the needs of all life, human and non-human.