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County divided over sending message

MEXICALI POWER PLANTS:

September 05, 2001|By LAURA MITCHELL, Staff Writer

The county Board of Supervisors is divided over what message it wants to send to Mexico concerning two power plants and a natural gas pipeline being built in Mexico along the Imperial County-Mexico border.

Emissions from the power plants would contribute to ozone pollution in Imperial County, posing a serious threat to the health of people on both sides of the border, stated a report last spring from county Air Pollution Control Officer Steve Birdsall.

The report also stated pollution from the plants would hurt the economy of Imperial County, which is under pressure from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce air pollution. The EPA has the power to restrict local growth until pollution is reduced.

Supervisors said yesterday they are talking with representatives of the two plants, a 600-megawatt power plant being built by San Diego-based Sempra Energy International and a 750-megawatt plant being built by Boston-based InterGen Aztec Energy.

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A third, coal-burning plant came to the attention of the county a week ago, Birdsall said. His office is trying to contact the company, based in Kentucky, but phone calls are not being returned.

Supervisor Joe Maruca requested a resolution against the two power plants and any permits for new plants.

Supervisor Gary Wyatt said he agrees with Maruca.

"We are the sacrifice for things others don't want in their back yard," Wyatt said. "No one wants a power plant in their area. They want to use the power but they don't want to deal with the issues."

"My three grandsons all have asthma. One needs special treatment at night in order to breathe," said Supervisor Hank Kuiper. "But I don't think we'll accomplish anything with the resolution."

Kuiper said he wants to see a resolution that encourages compromise.

Supervisor Wally Leimgruber agreed with Kuiper.

Maruca's and Kuiper's two draft resolutions will be prepared for the Board of Supervisors meeting on Sept. 11.

A proposed resolution on the Pacific Gas and Electric Co.'s natural gas pipeline is on hold while the board reviews the pipeline's environmental impact study.

Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 337-3452 or la_mitchel1@yahoo.com

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