Over the last few months, Surfrider has been writing about TCA’s plan to build the road in segments. We routinely attend their Board meetings to keep an eye on them. Here’s our first blog describing TCA’s plan. In a nutshell, TCA is proposing to complete the road in 4 segments (the same road that was rejected by Coastal Commission and Bush administration). However, they admit they don’t know where the last segment of the road will be located. During their public Board meetings, TCA laments that the last section will be the most challenging since the road will essentially be located somewhere near San Onofre State Beach and Camp Pendleton (and as you know, both locations have strong opposition).
Despite not having a plan for the last segment, they vow to complete the road. Sounds like horrible planning and engineering to Surfrider!
Now, as if the segmentation plan wasn’t bad enough, TCA is also working with high-paid lobbyists to circumvent the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other environmental measures. Apparently they are trying to get language into the current transportation bill that would streamline the environmental review process of NEPA-- essentially allowing the first segment of the road to move forward more quickly. Our Save San Onofre Coalition has been steadfastly watching the transportation bill. We recently sent a letter to Senator Boxer (who oversees the conference committee drafting the transportation bill) and we urged her to continue working toward a strong bill that does not include drastic environmental streamlining language. For what it’s worth, the reality of NEPA exemptions coming to fruition is low and we are confident Senator Boxer and other Committee members will oppose gutting environmental laws that benefit our county as a whole.
TCA also has the audacity to pursue environmental streamlining for an Army Corps of Engineers permit. Congressman Filner became aware of the TCA's attempts to shorten the Army Corps permit and he wrote a letter urging them to not allow an abbreviated process—stressing the importance of both environmental and public review of the project. You can view his letter here.
While much of this blog details the convoluted regulatory processes, the “take home message” is that the TCA has numerous hurdles to clear in order to build the first section of the road. Our Save San Onofre coalition (the exact same people who defeated the road in 2008) meets regularly to strategize. We have many tricks up our sleeve to ensure the TCA segmentation approach is never visualized. In October, the TCA will officially vote at their Board of Directors meeting to go forward with the segment plan based on their funding, engineer plans and possibility of obtaining environmental permits. Surfrider and our Coalition partners will keep you abreast of their plans. Of course, we’ll let you apprised of our efforts and when we will need your help to (once again) stop the TCA madness.