"We certainly understand the council's concerns, but we are not in a position to do something about it," Robertson said regarding air-quality matters.
A labor union business representative from Los Angeles spoke in favor of the gas pipeline, but said he wished the power plants were being built in California. He said local labor halls would provide much of the needed workers.
Octavio Simoes, Sempra's Mexicali project manager, said the energy company's supply of natural gas in Mexicali has already resulted in a reduction of air emissions equivalent to 11 power plants. He emphasized the difference between the Sempra plant, which is meeting California air emission standards, and that of InterGen, which is not.
Simoes said it would be politically incorrect for the company to not meet such standards.
"We're part of the business fabric," he said.
Simoes said if Sempra were to provide offsets in the county it would preclude future development from using them, thus limiting the county's potential development.
Meanwhile, several people also spoke against the projects, the most eloquent of which was El Centro resident Jennifer Lee.
Lee told the council that it should lay aside the political and economic reasons for supporting the projects, and instead consider the health, safety and life issues.
"If these plants should go up, they place my life on the line," she said.
Lee said young women exposed to years of air pollution could have children who might suffer from a variety of birth defects.
Bill Powers, a San Diego-based independent air-quality consultant and engineer, said despite the council's inability to stop the gas pipeline, power plants or transmission lines, should pass the resolution in opposition to send a message to state and federal officials that people in the Imperial Valley are concerned about the potential effects from the plants.
He said it is important to such officials that projects have local support.
Other speakers in favor of the resolution included District 3 Supervisor Joe Maruca and Mexicali resident Carlos Yruretagoyena.
In the end, the council decided to send the message.
>> Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.