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Our Opinion: Reasons are mounting

March 20, 2002

As if there weren't enough reasons to question the building of a pipeline through the Imperial Valley that would feed gas to two new border power plants in Mexicali, now we are being told archaeological sites in the Imperial Valley would be disturbed by the project.

The history of our Valley may not be important to those leading the charge for the North Baja Pipeline, but it means something to us and to historians and archaeologists. Based on an archaeological review of the pipeline project, there are 171 potentially historic sites within a 220-foot-wide pipeline corridor of Imperial County land from the Mexican border to Blythe, where the pipeline enters Imperial County.

Apparently, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission didn't think some of the sites should be protected, although federal engineers did force the North Baja Pipeline plan to be redone to avoid some historic sites. Still, there are now sites that could be affected by the project.

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We do not think this is an issue that should be put aside as a minor matter. If the sites cannot be protected and must be moved, there should be a facility in the county where the historical items could be put on display. It might be a nice gesture if NBP gave a donation to the under-construction Desert Museum near Ocotillo, which would be a nice home for the displaced artifacts and evidence. That museums outside Imperial County — such as UC Berkeley's and the Los Angeles and San Bernardino county museums — have first crack at our archaeological relics seems unfair and just another way in which the county is getting screwed by the pipeline.

There are those who argue the power plants the pipeline would feed would mean more power for California and Mexico. As much as we support increased power stability for our state and for our neighbor, the power plants will heavily pollute our Imperial Valley air, and the company building one of the plants is making no effort to meet California standards despite polluting the California airshed. That means we can't support the construction or fueling of the plants, at least until we see concerns about our health remedied.

We hope local officials stay committed to their fight against the pipeline project because it will be fueling that non-cooperative power plant that will put our health at risk. The fact that the pipeline will be disrupting archaeological sites is just one more strike against it.

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