September 22, 1997
VIA FACSIMILE & FEDERAL EXPRESS
Douglas M. Long, Manager
Decision-Making Support Branch
California Public Utilities Commission
505 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, California 94102-3298
Bruce Kaneshiro, Project
California Public Utilities Commission
c/o Environmental Science Associates
225 Bush Street, Suite 1700
San Francisco, California 94104
Re: Mitigated Negative Declaration (the "Negative Declaration") in connection with Southern California Edison's ("SCE") Application No. 96-11-046 (the "SCE Project") regarding the Ellwood Power Plant at Los Armas Road, Goleta, California (the "Ellwood Plant")
Dear Messrs. Long and Kaneshiro:
PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that we object to the issuance of the Negative Declaration on behalf of our client Aradon Corporation ("Aradon"), the fee title owner of both the sixteen (16) acres directly west of the Ellwood Plant and of the Sandpiper Golf Course property, which is directly south of the Ellwood Plant. As will be discussed below, there is substantial evidence that the SCE Project, as currently proposed, may have a significant adverse effect on the environment and on the health of persons using or occupying Aradon's property. [End L&B-1] [Begin L&B-2] In such instances, the California Environmental Quality Act ("CEQA") requires the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report ("EIR") and not a mitigated declaration. (See, Laurel Heights Improvement Ass'n v. Regents of Univ. of Cal., 6 Cal 4th 1112, 1123 (1993).) Under CEQA and the guidelines issued thereunder, if an project is not exempt and may cause a significant effect on the environment, the lead agency must prepare an EIR. Pub. Res. Code § § 21100, 21151; 14 Cal. Code Regs. § 15064(a)(1). If any aspect of the project may result in a significant impact on the environment, an EIR must be prepared, even if the overall effect of the project is beneficial. 14 Cal. Code Regs. § 15063(b)(1).
Aradon's primary objection revolves around the fact that the Negative Declaration completely ignores the impact of the SCE Project on Aradon's 159-unit affordable housing project (the "Sandpiper Housing Project"), previously approved by the County of Santa Barbara and the California Coastal Commission, pursuant to the "Sandpiper Golf Course, Clubhouse, Day Care Center and Residential Development Final Environmental Impact Report", No. 94-EIR-9 SCH #93121097, dated September 1994, prepared by Santa Barbara County Planning and Development Review Division (the "Sandpiper EIR").[End L&B-3] [Begin L&B-4] Consequently, the Initial Study fails to address the fact that the Sandpiper Housing Project will face significant safety and financial impacts. Thus, not only is there no substantial evidence, there is no evidence, in the record for the PUC to make a finding that there is no reasonable probability that the SCE Project will not have a significant effect on the environment. Consequently, given the following discussion only the opposite inference can be drawn, which necessitates the preparation of an EIR. See, e.g. No Oil, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles, 13 Cal 3rd 68, 83 n 16 (1974).
Specifically, the Negative Declaration fails to address the issue of how increased electromagnetic frequency waves ("EMF") may have an adverse effect on occupants of the housing project. The County of Santa Barbara in the Sandpiper EIR found:
Recent studies from Sweden and Denmark reinforce the hypothesis that exposure to a powerline magnetic field is linked to childhood cancer. A growing body of observations has documented boieffects of fields of 1mG in isolated cells, animals, and humans. A considerable body of epidemiological evidence points to human health hazards from exposures to ambient power frequency magnetic field environments exceeding 2mG (personal communication, G. Bell 1994). In the interim, until scientific evidence provides a clear answer, a policy of prudent avoidance should be applied to projects that have a potential to expose people to elevated magnetic fields in the intensity range that has been correlated with an increased incidence of cancer (1-5mG).
. . . For the purpose of this document, a significant impact caused by EMF would occur if new development is exposed to ELF magnetic fields equal to or greater than 2mG.
The Sandpiper EIR states
that when the Ellwood Peaking Facility is running during testing
and/or use, the magnetic fields are elevated above 2mG for a
distance of 90 feet. Please again refer to the enclosed map. You
will note that fifteen (15) units are directly impacted by the
magnetic fields generated by the Ellwood Plant. The impact of the
Sandpiper EIR was found to be less than significant because the
Ellwood Plant is only used for peaking activity of up to one
hour/week. In your Initial Study, however, you find that if the
Ellwood Plant is sold it will likely be run at maximum capacity.
According to Table 3.1 of the Initial Study, this would result in
capacity being increased by eleven and one half (11.5%). This
increase must be studied to determine whether the impact of ELF
magnetic field environment a these sustained levels is still less
than a significant impact. If such a finding cannot be made, then
appropriate mitigation measures must be included.
If the PUC knowingly approves the Negative Declaration in light of the Sandpiper EIR, Aradon will be forced to bring a suit for inverse condemnation against the PUC seeking recovery of the lost units. The PUC's approval of the Negative Declaration will result in a taking as surely as if the PUC had outright condemned Aradon's property. Aradon does not desire to institute such an action against the PUC, particularly when the PUC, like Aradon, does not benefit from the SCE Project. Nevertheless, if the PUC proceeds with the issuance of the current Negative Declaration, Aradon will have to protect its own economic interest against such action.
In summation, from a review of the analysis undertaken in connection with the Sandpiper EIR, the PUC cannot help but infer that the SCE Project, as proposed ,creates the potentially significant effect that increased EMFs may have an adverse effect on the Sandpiper affordable housing project and, consequently, the people who are to live there. [End L&B-7] [Begin L&B-8] Pub. Res. Code § 21083(c) and Cal. Code Regs. § 15065(d) state that a lead agency must make a finding of significance if a project's impacts may cause substantial adverse effect on human beings. Thus, given the total absence of discussion and evidence to the contrary, the PUC must find that the SCE Project, as proposed, creates a finding of significance. Even if the PUC determines that there is a real need for additional electrical capacity, that finding alone is not sufficient. 14 Cal. Code Regs. § 15063(b)(1) provides that if any aspect of the project may result in a significant impact on the environment, and EIR must be prepared even if the overall effect of the project is beneficial. Consequently, in connection with the SCE Project as proposed, the PUC must prepare an EIR and not a negative declaration. Lastly, because units will be lost, approval of the current SCE Project will expose the PUC to significant financial exposure on its own account.
Notwithstanding the foregoing discussion, it is possible that if SCE agrees to modify its project description to mitigate the effects of 2mG magnetic field environments, then Aradon can be made comfortable with a mitigated negative declaration. Absent the foregoing, however, Aradon demands the preparation of an EIR.
Very truly yours,
Kevin J. Lamb
of LAMB & BAUTE LLP
cc: Robert Y. Nagata,
Mr. John V. Stahl
Mr. Brian J. Bosse