Feb. 25, 2009 - Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is still considering running transmission lines through California's ecologically rich regions nearly two years after 10 environmental groups petitioned him to use a less damaging existing utility corridor. This was revealed at a Greenpath Power Project meeting on Friday, February 20, 2009, at the offices of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). The groups have requested that Mayor Villaraigosa use the "Smart Path," an existing utility corridor along Interstate 10. LADWP originally contended this path would condemn 3500 houses. At Friday's meeting, LADWP's own study revealed it would impact only 16 houses, which environmentalists and community groups believe could be avoided.
"It is clear that any route that does not follow existing transmission corridors would be an economic choice by Mayor Villaraigosa that totally disregards the environment," states Joan Taylor, the Desert Energy Chair of the Sierra Club.
April Sall of The Wildlands Conservancy added: "Mayor Villaraigosa's proposed route through the high desert communities and ecologically rich lands thwarts our democracy and would require Los Angeles to condemn lands over the resolutions of opposition from two boards of supervisors and nine cities. It shows total disregard for the property rights and environment of people who live far from the City of Los Angeles and receive no benefit from this new energy source. We call on Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to drop the desert route immediately and to use the existing corridor route outlined by his Department of Water and Power in Friday's meeting."
Oak Glen Apple Growers sign
This past apple season, Oak Glen apple growers and environmentalists sent more than 30,000 postcards and e-mails to Mayor Villaraigosa from tourists opposed to the "Greenpath" route that would destroy historic Oak Glen. Concerning "Greenpath," Devon Riley, president of Oak Glen Apple Growers' Association, said: "Mayor Villaraigosa should realize by now that it is a political blunder to destroy one of California's most popular inland tourist destinations."
Peter Galvin, Conservation Director of the Center for Biological Diversity, added: "We applaud Los Angeles' effort to bring green geothermal energy from the Salton Sea to Los Angeles. But the proposed routes through important habitat lands are not green by any standards and will result in lengthy litigation."
Ruth Rieman of the California Desert Coalition notes: "Finally, Los Angeles has backed away from the fear tactic that following existing utility corridors (Smart Path) would require condemnation of 3,500 houses. (The Press Enterprise: 'Inland acres in LA power path,' 6/25/08) Now, their own study finds that this route would only impact 16 houses which could probably be avoided with further study. There can now be no doubt that the 'Smart Path' is the least damaging corridor."
The billboard campaign is a collaboration between the California Desert Coalition, the Oak Glen Apple Growers' Association, and The Wildlands Conservancy.
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