Border Pollution-Bajagua Scandal
In 2005, the U.S.-Mexico border (Imperial Beach and Coronado) accounted for more than 80 percent of San Diego County’s total number of beach closures. The Bajagua company has made over $650,000 in campaign contributions to have Congressmen Brian Bilbray, Bob Filner and Duncan Hunter lobby for their client to receive a sole-source no-bid contract worth up to $600 million dollars to build a sewage treatment plant in eastern Tijuana.
The Bajagua project is considered so top-secret that access to project information is prohibited by the International Boundary and Water Commission, even though the project will not reduce sewage flows across the border.
The project will however, enrich the bank accounts of Bajagua’s founders Jim Simmons and Enrique Landa who helped grease the wheel for their company by distributing more than $20 million in lobbying fees and campaign contributions to government officials on both sides of the border (and by intimidating project opponents with threats of lawsuits — WiLDCOAST, the organization I run, has received two such threats so far for exercising our First Amendment rights to criticize a U.S. taxpayer funded project). Meanwhile children in Imperial Beach, Coronado and Playas de Tijuana continue to surf in raw sewage.
Save Trestles-Stop the Toll Road
It used to be a long time ago, in another century, that state and national parks were areas that were designated to be for conservation and recreational use. No better example of such an area in California is San Onofre State Beach Park, home of Trestles, San Diego County’s best surf spot. Unfortunately, a quasi public-private agency, the Transportation Corridor Agency (TCA) has decided that one of California’s most beloved state parks would be better as the location of a toll road. So long Trestles. Hello Toll Road. Traditionally, conservationists work with state officials to urge them to establish state parks in order to preserve our state’s natural heritage. Now environmentalists are fighting state authorities to make sure they don’t sell off our state beaches to the highest bidder.
Let’s be clear — there is no greater threat to the environment in San Diego County than Sempra Energy. Whether it is despoiling the coastline of Mexico, fouling the air of Mexicali, or threatening to turn Anza Borrego State Park into an industrial site. The company has no respect for the environment. The activists fighting the Sunrise Powerlink such as Bill Powers of the Border Power Plant Working Group and Kelly Fuller of the Sierra Club are my
are my personal heroes for taking on Sempra (Bill has my vote as one of our region’s most effective and admirable environmentalists — he is the guy you want in the room on your side when you are meeting with corrupt corporate hacks). Can we just kill this project and figure out a way to put Sempra out of business before the company figures out new plans for destroying what remains of our region’s wild areas?
South San Diego Bay
I remember meeting with a couple of government officials back in the 1980s with Dr. Mike McCoy (a true San Diego environmental legend) to talk about why their proposal to build a marina at the south end of San Diego Bay would never fly. They laughed at us for arguing that the area would be better served by a wildlife refuge. Today the southern portion of San Diego Bay is now protected as a unit of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex and is arguably the best place for wildlife viewing in the county. Unfortunately the attempt by multiple jurisdictions including the city of Chula Vista to build out the southern end of the Bay is problematic. Instead of respecting the wildlife and recreational values that are truly an inspiration to the tens of thousands of South County residents who enjoy the Bay each weekend, public officials, especially those in Chula Vista, only view the bay as a cash cow.
San Diego is still a national biodiversity hotspot and backcountry San Diego, whether it is the Northeastern or Southeastern corners of the county, include amazing array of ecosystems and wildlife habitats that sill remain in their natural state. A growing list of land trusts are desperately attempting to preserve what remains of these areas. The exponential growth of San Diego County, especially at its southern end is hard to keep pace with. Human induced wildfires have also had a devastating impact on these natural areas and global warming will as well. Fortunately conservationists like Michael Beck of the Endangered Habitats League are hard at work trying to preserve what remains of wild San Diego County.