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The Los Angeles Times helps frame the debate on the proposed San Onofre toll road extension in a story today. Calling the project one of Southern California’s “great environmental showdowns,” the story gives a thorough exam of the arguments for and against building a road through San Onofre State Beach.

The California Coastal Commission is scheduled to decide Wednesday whether to permit the project. The Times says:

Supporters of the planned six-lane turnpike contend that the road is needed to accommodate development and take some of the burden off Interstate 5, one of the most heavily traveled corridors between Los Angeles and San Diego. They assert that no better alternative exists and that substantial steps would be taken to protect the environment.

Opponents argue that if the toll road is built, it would be the largest project of its type put through a state park. San Onofre would be permanently scarred, they say, and the road’s approval could open the door for other significant encroachments on park land statewide, such as utilities, rail lines and desalination plants.

“This is the most significant issue to come before the commission since the San Onofre nuclear power plant in the early 1970s,” said Peter M. Douglas, the [Coastal Commission’s] executive director.

ROB DAVIS

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