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Voice: Comments outside meeting should not be included in meeting coverage

June 28, 2001

I attended a recent meeting as a concerned citizen worried about air quality in the Mexicali and Imperial Valley region and talk about what we can do to find solutions.

We expressed our basic concern and listed some cases creating a degree of alarm. Among them we listed agricultural burning, car emissions, trash burning, dust and the new energy projects of Intergen and Sempra.

We are interested in forming a group of border residents who want to learn more about air quality and better understand why we have the level of deterioration in our binational air basin, what is being done and how we can contribute to prevent further deterioration.

By evaluating the interests and suggestions of those who participated in several meetings we had, it was decided to bring together some key individuals to take the next step.

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We are concerned about the two electric-generation plants being built on the Mexicali side. Projected calculations on emissions are of concern because they will contribute to further deteriorating our already-poor air quality. We are not excusing other players such as industry, old cars, farmers nor people who burn trash.

Some experts we have consulted have said if the two projects are not done accordingly we can expect more serious health problems, particularly for children and old folks.

Our reactions and concerns are based on the best information to which we had access. By no means are we reacting solely on guts and fear.

No one in the group opposes progress. We are only saying we need to have a more sustainable type of progress, articulated to the environment's life-support mechanisms, public health and economic benefits.

If we are to be the watchdogs, we will be a group that will contribute, assist and seek sustainable answers to air quality. The intention is to create an atmosphere of winners between the environment, the economy, our cultures, its border citizens and our future generations.

The only thing we are asking our governments and the spokespersons from the two companies is to further provide us with technical and scientific data about their respective projects, particularly how they plan to control contingencies and remediate impacts.

I respect your freedom to communicate to your public about a news event, but I think Mr. Claverie did not do his homework in quoting Kimberly Collins about Gov. Davis. Any comment by her was outside the meeting, off-record and not discussed in our forum.

I am the manager of the special projects division for a recycling paper mill in Mexicali and am director of the Centro Regional de Estudios Ambientales y Socioeconomicos, a non-governmental organization working on environmental, educational and socioeconomic regional issues.

I attended the meeting as a concerned citizen and not as an employee or director. This is important to note because my involvement, credibility in similar issues related to border matters and the environment are known by many with whom I have the fortune of sharing views and working.

If the Imperial Valley Press wishes to continue attending our meetings, your reporters should come with a critical mind and not with an alarmist attitude, then report the facts as stated. Anything outside the meeting I consider gossip and comments not directly related to an agenda, a common topic of discussion nor an endorsed policy.

CARLOS YRURETAGOYENA

Mexicali

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