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State Senator Juan Vargas, whose 40th district spans the entire California/Mexico border, has introduced legislation to stop construction of a cross-border utility line. The bill, SJR 13, would formally request that the United States Department of Energy reject an application from Sempra Generation (a subsidiary of Sempra Energy) to construct the proposed Energia Sierra Juarez transmission line from Mexico to California.

We reported last month on a study commissioned by the California Labor Federation showing the potential for the loss of up to 15,000 jobs if the transmission line is approved. The study specifically addresses “job-years.” This means, for example, that 600 construction jobs over five years would be lost to Mexico, represented as 3,000 “job-years.” Total impact cited by Vargas in a press release includes the loss of $4.5 million in human capital investment in Imperial County, 9,800 job-years lost in California, and 15,000 job-years total throughout the U.S.

“We can’t sit back and watch thousands of jobs be outsourced to Mexico while Imperial County is experiencing some of the worst unemployment in the United States,” said Vargas. “Families in Imperial County need these jobs and we should fight hard to keep them!”

Sempra, for its part, dismisses the report as biased and unreliable, noting that it was sponsored by the very labor unions that stand to lose by the transmission line gaining approval.

“It’s a shame that Sen. Vargas would choose the interest of labor unions rather than the interests of Californian who want cleaner energy and a cleaner environment,” Sempra Generation External Affairs Director Scott Crider told the Imperial Valley Press.

The bill currently awaits an audience with the Senate Rules Committee.

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