(CN) – A “completely unnecessary powerline project” that would run through rugged mountains, verdant valleys and pristine deserts of Eastern San Diego County spells trouble for the already endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep and the Quino checkerspot butterfly, environmentalists say in Sacramento Federal Court.
Backcountry Against Dumps, the Protect Our Communities Foundation and the East County Community Action Coalition say San Diego Gas & Electric Co. project is “hastily conceived, poorly studied, wildfire inducing and completely unnecessary.”
The environmentalists say the plan ignores the needs of bighorn sheep and checkerspot butterflies, whose habitats have been reduced to small areas where they are protected mainly because the land is rugged and inaccessible.
The Bureau of Land Management and the Fish and Wildlife Service illegally approved construction of the 500 megawatt Sunrise Powerlink Transmission Line Project, the complaint states.
The development plan includes areas previously undisturbed and protected but the Bureau approved it anyway after its initial resource management plan for the area was “abruptly hijacked” by San Diego Gas & Electric, the groups say.
The groups claim the Bureau has “turned a blind eye” to the devastating impact the plan could have on the animals and their habitat.
Groups who filed administrative protests in appeal of the decision say the Bureau dismissed their objections, saying they failed to make substantiated and concise statements explaining why the decision is wrong.
The environmentalists say the plan violates the Endangered Species Act and other federal environmental and land management laws. They seek a permanent injunction.
Bighorn sheep are know for fierce head-to-head combat between rams, some of which can weigh as much 300 lbs. Combat between rams can last for more than 24 hours.
The environmental groups are represented by Stephen Volker of Oakland.