The proposed Liberty Quarry in Riverside County is not only opposed by the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, but also by San Diego State University (SDSU) and the city of Temecula; and the proposing company Granite Construction listened to almost 13 hours of arguments against their project at a public hearing held by the Riverside County Planning Commission June 22.
Representatives from the three opposing parties were allowed to state their cases against the quarry, and each of them pointed to holes in the Environmental Impact Report.
According to reports on Nctimes.com, the speakers said sites sacred to the Pechanga and migratory paths of animals were overlooked and that air quality data were manipulated.
“A textbook case for how not to do an EIR (environmental impact report),” said Courtney Coyle, an attorney representing the Pechanga, according to the site.
The proposed Liberty Quarry would lie on 400-acres between San Diego County and the southern border of Temecula, land which is part of the Pechanga creation story. Nctimes.com reported that Leslie Mouriquand, Riverside County archaeologist, said there were no tangible artifacts found there.
“Are we that linear that we have to go find something on the site?” Planning commissioner John Petty asked, after pointing to maps, field notes and oral histories proving the lands’ importance to the Pechanga.
In a column on Nctimes.com, columnist John Hunneman said “I had to resist the urge to jump on my chair and exult at the top of my lungs: ‘Ich bin ein Temeculan.’” He concluded by saying, “thanks to the city of Temecula, SDSU and the Pechanga, Granite was shown that truth trumps all the propaganda and publicity money can buy.”
Researchers at a research field station west of the proposed quarry site run by SDSU said noise, light and the location of the site would affect their work, which involves tracking the migration of mountain lions and other animals and studying vocal signatures of birds. Kelcey Stricker, one of the researchers, said some animals, especially mountain lions, would leave the area rather than adapt to the changes brought about by the quarry.
According to Nctimes.com, there were about 500 to 600 people at the June 22 hearing and most of them are opposed to the quarry.
There was some debate over the economic costs and benefits to the county. Granite Construction has pointed to economic benefits in the form of jobs, and sales and property tax revenues. An economist at the latest hearing said the economic costs of lower property values and decreased tourism would outweigh any benefits Granite has proposed.
The company also says the Inland Empire—the Riverside-San Bernardino area—will run out of raw materials in 20 years if a new source isn’t found. Geologist Kerry Cato agrees that there is a shortage of aggregate rock, but says it would be more efficient to find a site closer to San Diego County, which is where most of the aggregate will be shipped to.
The fourth hearing for the quarry was scheduled for June 29, but Gary Johnson, aggregate resource manager with Granite Construction, said the company would need more time to provide counterpoints to the nearly 13 hours of opposition from the June 22 hearing. The hearing is not yet scheduled.
Granite Construction’s Gary Johnson discusses dust mitigation at an April 15 open house:
YouTube user laurieweb66 posted the following video about the area surrounding the site of the proposed Liberty Quarry and the dangers the project poses: