San Diego Regional Water Quality Board Rejects Orange County Toll Road Permits
SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board today rebuffed the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (TCA) in its attempts to secure a necessary water quality permit for its Tesoro Extension project. The Board voted unanimously 6 to 0 to adopt findings that reinforced its decision of June 2013, when the Regional Board rejected the requested Waste Discharge Requirements permit because the full project impacts of the entire road were not disclosed to it. The Save San Onofre Coalition applauds the Board’s decision.
The Tesoro Extension comprises the first five miles of TCA’s plan to connect the 241 toll road in Orange County to Interstate 5 in San Diego County. The project is part of TCA’s 16-mile toll road project that would bisect San Onofre State Beach, California’s fifth most popular state park, and protected natural lands in the Donna O’Neill Conservancy. If the full project is built, the state parks department has indicated it will abandon 60% of the state park because of the damage the toll road would cause.
The Board rejected TCA’s application for a Waste Discharge Requirements permit because TCA had failed to adequately disclose and mitigate the damage the project would cause to water quality and other natural resources. The vote today to adopt legal findings explaining why it rejected the toll road project represents the third time the Board has voted to stop the 241 extension project because of environmental concerns.
The TCA has spent more than $300 million in public funding for a project that has been repeatedly turned down. In fact, 78 percent of Orange County opposes building the proposed toll road through San Onofre State Beach, according to an August 2014 poll.
Following is a statement from Elizabeth Goldstein on behalf of the Save San Onofre Coalition:
“The Board today voted to protect our water quality, our parks and beaches from this destructive toll road project. We commend the Board for upholding California’s water quality laws and protecting the public interest,” commented Goldstein.
“The Board responded to the overwhelming evidence that the Tesoro Extension is no more than an attempt to commence construction of a larger, environmentally destructive that has been rejected by the Board and every other agency that has considered the project to-date.”
“This project needs to be rethought from the ground up, or abandoned, rather than twisted to accommodate every rejection the TCA experiences.”
About the Save San Onofre Coalition
The Save San Onofre Coalition includes a wide range of organizations including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the California State Parks Foundation, Endangered Habitats League, Surfrider Foundation, Sea and Sage Audubon Society amongst others convened to prevent the destruction of San Onofre State Beach by the Foothill-South Toll Road.