Californian  June 23, 2011

HUNNEMAN: A proud day for Temecula


At a meeting Wednesday, I had to resist the urge to jump on my chair and exult at the top of my lungs: "Ich bin ein Temeculan."

For hour after hour that day, experts hired by the city of Temecula ---- along with others from San Diego State University and the Pechanga tribe ---- took turns blasting holes in the 6,800-page environmental impact report prepared by Granite Construction, which wants to dig a giant quarry just south of the city.
This was the third, and probably next-to-last, meeting of the Riverside County Planning Commission on the proposed Liberty Quarry. The meetings, held at Rancho Community Church in Temecula, have drawn large crowds, with most attendees opposed to the project.
On Wednesday, an audience of around 500 heard experts use words and phrases such as deception, misrepresentation, manipulating, insulting, purposely dishonest, patently untrue, illogical and intellectual garbage to describe many of the findings in the report, which was paid for by Granite and signed off on by the county's planning staff.
"Facts," President John Adams once said, "are stubborn things."
So stubborn, in fact, that several experts testified that when facts were presented to the report's preparers that didn't support Granite's desired conclusions, they simply left them out.
"A textbook case for how not to do (an environmental impact report)," said attorney Courtney Coyle, who represented the Pechanga tribe.
The speakers ---- economists, traffic engineers, air-quality experts, geologists ---- all had impeccable credentials.
Each received a rousing ovation after speaking, which I'm guessing doesn't happen much in the world of geology and economics.
Many shook their heads at the flawed science Granite used to try to convince the commission that blowing a large hole in an environmentally sensitive area ---- land sacred to the Pechanga and located next to a world-class environmental research center ---- that would spew dust and other pollutants into the 40-mph winds that blow each afternoon from the Pacific, making Temecula's Wine Country possible, and into the lungs of several hundred thousand people for as long as 75 years ---- was a dandy idea.
Six years ago, I predicted Granite would not build Liberty Quarry in San Diego County ---- where, by their own admission, 70 percent of the mine's aggregate would be needed ---- because the people and politicians there would not allow it.
"So let's creep just over the line into Riverside County, (Granite) must figure, where the bumpkins and the meth users won't mind," I wrote in August 2005.
That's exactly what Granite has tried to do.
On Wednesday, thanks to the city of Temecula, SDSU and the Pechanga, Granite was shown that truth trumps all the propaganda and publicity money can buy.
Contact columnist John Hunneman at jhunneman@californian.com.

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