From the daily archives: Tuesday, July 13, 2010

SDGE Gets Final Approval for the Sunrise Powerlink

By Mario Conde

After years of work by Imperial County and other agencies, the USDA Forest Service has authorized the construction, operation, and maintenance of the Sunrise Powerlink on the Cleveland National Forest.

The Cleveland National Forest is approving construction and operation of the 1,000-megawatt line on 19 miles of forest land. The project is expected to bring $1.9 Billion to Southern California. The approval of this project was lauded and celebrated by the County Board of Supervisors Tuesday since this will put Imperial County as the renewable energy capital of the United States.

“This is a great day for Imperial County and San Diego because this will create hundreds of jobs.” Said Supervisor Gary Wyatt stating that those that oppose this project will benefit from it as well. Wyatt said that projects on the Sunrise Powerlink will start soon and will benefit the valley.

Supervisor Wally Leimgruber said that this was a historic day for the County and highlighted the aggressive approach the County of Imperial had in this project. “We had a lengthy EIR since this met a lot of demands but we finally come to this approval that will be beneficial for this area.” He said.

With the implementation of this project the County believes that the Imperial County can provide the nation with thousands of Mega Watts of clean, green renewable energy. The Board of Supervisors believes that Imperial County is rich in geothermal resources and our potential for solar generated electricity is endless.

The board believes that the Sunrise Powerlink will provide the adequate transmission to export this clean renewable energy and this project is the first step in providing the necessary electric infrastructure to replace fossil fuel generation with renewable energy that has no harmful greenhouse emissions.

In other news, the Board of Supervisors approved to split the County Planning & Economic Development Departments due to the retirement of Jurg Heuberger who announced its retirement for this August. The board approved to have the Economic Development Department to run by the County Executive Officer until the position is filled in October.


WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Bureau of Reclamation, an agency of the Department of the Interior, has awarded a $991,280 contract to Briston Construction, LLC, of Tempe, Ariz., under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Briston Construction, a disabled veteran-owned business, will retrofit Reclamation’s Yuma Area Office with strengthening upgrades to improve the building’s structural stability in the event of a seismic disturbance.  As part of the work, four exterior concrete footings and steel buttresses will be installed on the south side of the building. In addition, a gravel-lined ballast-style roof will be installed over the interior administration corridor of the building, replacing the insulated panels that currently exist.

Reclamation’s Yuma Area Office complex, located adjacent to the Colorado River, also includes the Yuma Desalting Plant, a reverse osmosis plant capable of desalting up to 72 million gallons per day of agricultural runoff.

“Constructed in the 1980s, the Yuma Area Office Building is considered safe, but this work will bring the structure into compliance with the latest seismic standards and building codes,” said Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor. “This seismic rehabilitation will ensure the continued health, safety and welfare of our employees through the improved structural integrity of this existing building.”

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act enacted last year gave $3 billion to the Department of the Interior.

The ARRA funds represent an important component of the President’s plan to jumpstart the economy and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so the country can thrive in the 21st century.  Under the ARRA, Interior is making an investment in conserving America’s timeless treasures – our stunning natural landscapes, our monuments to liberty, the icons of our culture and heritage – while helping American families and their communities prosper again. Interior is also focusing on renewable energy projects, the needs of American Indians, employing youth and promoting community service.

“With its investments of Recovery Act funds, the Department of the Interior and its bureaus are putting people to work today to make improvements that will benefit the environment and the region for many years to come,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said.

Secretary Salazar has pledged unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability in the implementation of the Department’s economic recovery projects. The public will be able to follow the progress of each project on and on Secretary Salazar has appointed a Senior Advisor for Economic Recovery, Chris Henderson, and an Interior Economic Recovery Task Force to work closely with Interior’s Inspector General and ensure the recovery program is meeting the high standards for accountability, responsibility, and transparency set by President Obama.


Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. continued his fight today against an attack on the state’s innovative use of DNA to identify suspects of violent crimes, asserting that “DNA is the fingerprint of the 21st century.”

In an argument before the federal court of appeals in San Francisco, Brown’s office defended the state’s voter-mandated collection of DNA from adults arrested for felonies.

“California is at the forefront of solving crimes through new and innovative uses of DNA technology, and I intend to do everything in my power to defend the state’s ability to reduce crime by collecting DNA from those arrested for felonies,” Brown said. “So far, DNA collected from arrestees has led to the identification of suspects in more than 970 rapes, murders and other very serious crimes,” Brown added.

This case arose when the ACLU filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the state’s DNA arrestee program. The Attorney General prevailed in the United States District Court, and the ACLU appealed to the federal court of appeals.

Samples are taken through a simple procedure using a wooden swab to collect DNA from the inside of a person’s cheek. Strict safeguards ensure that the samples are used only by law enforcement officials to identify an individual and not for any other purpose.

Brown pointed out that about 40 percent of homicides and 60 percent of rapes go unsolved. For example, many of the victims of the Grim Sleeper might still be alive if the suspect had been identified from DNA taken when he was previously arrested.

Collecting DNA samples from those arrested for felonies is a profoundly important way to help solve murders, rapes and other very serious crimes. It should be noted that almost half of those arrested for felonies are repeat offenders.

In 2004, California voters approved Proposition 69, which required law enforcement officers to begin last year taking DNA samples from every adult arrested for a felony.

The program is accomplishing its purpose: identifying criminal suspects. In its first 18 months, DNA collected from arrestees has lead to the identification of 970 suspects of serious felonies. For example:

– DNA collected from Donald Carter, 56, arrested in Sacramento in 2009 on a felony drug charge, was linked to the unsolved 20-year-old murder of Sophie McAllister, 80. Although Carter’s drug charge was dismissed, he was later charged with murder and his trial is pending.

– In April 2009, Christopher Rogers, 34, was arrested in Sacramento for assault with a deadly weapon, which was ultimately reduced to a misdemeanor. But his DNA, collected at the time of arrest, was matched to DNA taken at the scene of a 2004 murder in Sacramento. In October, Rogers was arrested and charged with murder. He awaits trial.

– In August 2009, Rene Hernandez, 26, was arrested in Watsonville for felony assault. His DNA was linked to a February 2009 sexual assault of a Watsonville woman, and he was arrested on multiple charges related to that crime. His trial is pending.

– In May 2009, Anthony Vega was arrested in Los Angeles County on felony drug charges, which were later reduced to misdemeanors. His DNA, collected at the time of arrest, was linked to two separate crimes committed in Orange County, a burglary in 2007 and a 2008 armed home invasion robbery. A preliminary hearing is scheduled.

– Earlier this year, Joshua Graham Packer, 20, was arrested in Santa Barbara on armed robbery charges. His DNA was matched to a sample taken at the site of an unsolved 2009 triple murder in Ventura County. He was arrested for that crime in April and charged with murder.

Oral arguments in the case were scheduled today in the Ninth Circuit United States Court of Appeals at Seventh and Mission streets in San Francisco.

Attached are briefs filed in the case. An earlier press release on the DNA felony arrestee program can be found at

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Calexico, Calif. – U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to Calexico Station arrested a convicted sex offender who was illegally present in the United States early Thursday morning in the desert east of Calexico, Calif.

On July 8, at approximately 5:45 a.m., agents encountered a 41-year-old male approximately 16 miles east of the downtown Calexico port of entry. It was determined he was a citizen of Mexico without any legal immigration documents. He was subsequently arrested and transported to the Calexico Border Patrol Station for further processing.

At the station record checks revealed the man had previously been convicted of Lewd and Lascivious acts with a minor in Santa Paula, Calif. The individual is being prosecuted for 8 USC 1326 re-entry after deportation.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation’s borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.


The USDA Forest Service has authorized the construction, operation, and maintenance of the Sunrise Powerlink on the Cleveland National Forest.

The signed Record of Decision adopts the California Public Utilities Commission/Bureau of Land Management Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS).

“Throughout the deliberative process, the Forest Service sought to balance California’s renewable energy needs with minimizing impacts to the environment to the greatest extent possible,” said Will Metz, Forest Supervisor of the Cleveland National Forest. “The Forest Service’s decision to authorize the project provides future access to renewable energy, improves energy system reliability, and will reduce transmission congestion in the greater San Diego area. The citizens of Southern California will benefit from implementation of Sunrise Powerlink and it is in the national interest to allow Forest lands to be utilized for this project.”

The decision adopts the comprehensive mitigation measures detailed in the Final EIR/EIS and the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Biological Opinion. Fire mitigation will include the construction and maintenance of defensible space on Forest land adjacent to communities at risk along the route of the transmission line, and the funding to plan, design and construct fire suppression facilities and improvements. The decision also provides for additional mitigation measures on Forest lands to further minimize the impacts of the project on the environment.

The decision amends the Cleveland National Forest Land Management Plan (LMP) to provide a project-specific exception to the Forest LMP requirements regarding scenic integrity along the transmission line route, riparian conditions and biological resource condition goals in Riparian Conservation Areas, and for the construction of the transmission line in a Back-Country Non-motorized area.

“We carefully considered the public comments, and reviewed the information contained in the Supplemental Information Report in determining that further environmental analysis is not needed,” added Metz. “A Special Use Permit will be issued to SDG&E contingent on resolution of any potential appeals to my decision, and project certification under the Clean Water Act by the State of California Water Resources Control Board.”

Publication of the legal notice concerning this decision in the Union Tribune establishes the 45-day Administrative Review Period (appeal period) for the decision. Appeals must be filed with the Appeal Deciding Officer, Randy Moore, Regional Forester, USDA Forest Service, 1323 Club Drive, Vallejo, CA 94592, Attn: APPEALS

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