Activists Rally in Mission Trails Park to Oppose SDG&E Gas Pipeline

by on June 19, 2018 · 2 comments

in Energy, Environment, San Diego

Mission Trails pipeline protest, June 17, 2018. Photo by Colleen Cochran

By Colleen Cochran

This past Father’s Day, many San Diegans celebrated their dads amidst the green, rolling hills of Mission Trails Regional Park. One group, holding colorful signs, gathered for more than celebration; they were there to protect this 7,000-acre wilderness area.

SDG&E and SoCalGas would like to install a new gas pipeline to run approximately 47 miles through San Diego County. These utility companies are considering several potential routes for this pipeline, one of which cuts through the park.

The rally’s attendees sought to bring public attention to the fact that pipeline installation will destroy wildlife habitat and forever mar the landscape. They warned about the dangers of continued reliance on fossil fuels, which causes climate change and, thus, leads to drought and harm to plant, animal, and human life.

Said Stephanie Corkran, who organized the activist gathering:

“We oppose this pipeline whatever the route. Over 100 million trees have died in the state due to climate change. Building this pipeline, with what we know about climate change and the threat to our environment, is akin to committing suicide or perpetrating murder.”

Ms. Corkran, an anthropologist, organized the event on behalf of the environmental group SanDiego350. Residents of Santee, as well as members of the Interfaith Coalition for Earth Justice (ICEJ), Sierra Club, Climate Action Campaign, Protect Our Communities Foundation, Save Mission Trails, and Food & Water Watch also participated.

Event speakers shared their perspectives on the proposed pipeline.

Reverend Jeanette Ham, pastor at Foothills United Methodist Church, said protection of the earth is a moral obligation and an issue of social justice.

Santee City Council Member, Stephen Houlahan, whose young son joined him at the podium, said that he couldn’t think of a better way to spend Father’s Day than to ensure open, wild space will be available for his son and generations of other children.

The issue of safety was discussed by Peter Andersen, Vice Chair of the Sierra Club San Diego. He said, “Gas pipelines are fire hazards. Can you imagine a fire raging through Mission Trails? The homes in Santee, San Diego, and other areas, and the wildlife, would all be lost.” He also stated that the more than $600 million slated for the pipeline could be invested in safe, clean solar and wind energy.

Tara Kelly, Director of Community Development at Sullivan Solar Power said, “The pipeline is unnecessary. Our local solar industry can unplug entire communities from fossil fuels.”

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has regulatory authority over natural gas companies. In May, its administrative law judge Colette E. Kersten likewise concluded the pipeline is unnecessary.

In her draft decision to deny certification to SDG&E and SoCalGas, Judge Kersten wrote,

“Applicants have not shown why it is necessary to build a very costly pipeline to substantially increase gas pipeline capacity in an era of declining demand and at a time when the state of California is moving away from fossil fuels.”

SDG&E argues instead that natural gas is critical for San Diego’s economy and that the new pipeline will ensure greater reliability for the entire gas system.

Should the other commission members approve her decision, the utilities’ application to construct the pipeline will be officially denied. The CPUC will hold the hearing on this matter on Thursday, June 21.

Those who gathered in the park to oppose the proposed pipeline hope their voices will resonate with the CPUC members who will decide the matter. Ultimately, they hope to preserve Mission Trails Park as a natural place to be enjoyed for many a Father’s Day to come.

How to get involved:

If you are interested in having your voice heard on the pipeline issue:

1.      Send a letter to or email the CPUC (include the proceeding number A1509013):


California Public Utilities Commission
Public Advisor’s Office
505 Van Ness Avenue

San Francisco, CA 94102

2.    Send a letter or email to your councilmember

Colleen Cochran is a legal editor and a San Diego-based coordinator for Food & Water Watch, an energy and environment advocacy group based in D.C.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

bodysurferbob June 19, 2018 at 12:20 pm

thank you colleen for covering this event. out here on the coast we forget there’s life east of 5 (jk). i know and love mission trails park – so thanks also to all those who rallied vs the pipeline.


Colleen June 19, 2018 at 1:01 pm

You’re welcome, Bob!


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