Stop Sentinel!


 by C.E. Krause, Bob Terry, and Chuck Parker

Until February 2012, no one in the Coachella Valley had heard of the CPV Sentinel natural gas-/fossil fuel-burning, 800-megawatt Power Plant under construction four miles from Palm Springs, CA.  No one, that is, but a handful of bought-off politicians and “regulators” who had managed to slip approval of this gross polluter past the public. The owners of the plant plan to make a bloody fortune, selling out our air and water, for their profit. But when members of Occupy Coachella Valley heard about it, a small group of them calling themselves People Over Pollution determined to fight to stop CPV Sentinel from going into operation.

The Coachella Valley is the sun-drenched, wind-swept southern California desert where cities are named for geo-thermal phenomena: Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Indian Wells, and so on.  That’s where the “fossil-fool” owners, Mitsubishi and GE, decided to put their gross polluter.  They put it right next to the San Andreas Fault, and it sits at the mouth of the bottleneck between the San Jacinto and San Gorgonio Mountains, from which the poisonous air of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties [rated ‘F’ by the American Lung Association] gushes over solar panels and through wind turbines, which produce clean electricity at minimal cost.

The plant’s smokestacks would spew one million tons of carbon dioxide per year, and 277% of the allowable PM2.5, those tiny particles which can enter your body through the pores of your skin and your lungs, and which are proven to worsen conditions like asthma and emphysema and, worse, to cause cancer.If this gross polluter went into operation, the wind would spread these lethal particulates to the cities nestled along the foothills bordering the Coachella Valley, churning with the toxic pollutants from the Salton Sea, then blowing the poisonous concoction as far south as the Mexican border.

CPV Sentinel would require nearly 2000 gallons of pristine water per minute to cool the eight 90-foot tall smokestacks, which over the contracted 30 year life of the plant would come to over 10 billion gallons of our drinking water, renowned country-wide for its purity.  The plan is to replace it with contaminated Colorado River water.

Operating the plant would also require highly toxic ammonia gas, to be stored in large tanks nearby which, in an earthquake, could release deadly clouds of gas.   

But People Over Pollution and its community allies – Occupy Coachella Valley, Comite Latino, and other local affiliates – are bringing truth to the People by way of demonstrations, city council meetings, petition drives, and town hall forums throughout the Coachella Valley. Our air, water and soil are at stake; our economy, our livelihoods, our lives are at stake; Mother Earth’s survival is at stake.

In the long run, we must take the profit out of the energy industries by making them public property. True political power resides with the People, and once we are armed with the truth and organized, CPV Sentinel can and will be stopped. Please join us in this urgent struggle for survival.

OCV encourages you to visit the Sentinel website at: where you can contact them with questions about CO2, pm 2.5, and pm 10, toxic pollutants with which the plant will flood the valley. CPV Sentinel Energy Project is located at 62575 Powerline Road, Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240 if you want to see for yourself the monstrous smokestacks.  This plant poses a very serious risk to the health and well being of all life in the Coachella Valley and we invite you to become involved in shutting it down.

10 thoughts on “Stop Sentinel!

  1. It is with heavy heart and heavier lungs, rapidly filling with lethal output from CPV Sentinel, that I give this brief update: CPV Sentinel began running tests in early spring 2013, many months earlier than projected and in secrecy. The whistle was blown by an observer of dark puffs of toxins spewing high into the air from the smokestacks. It became operational within days, also much earlier than publicized and unannounced. Residents claim that it is because of CPV Sentinel’s going online that the mountains surrounding the Coachella Valley have been obscured by a brownish haze, often completely.

    Members of People Over Pollution (POP) have brought to the attention of elected and nonelected officials the fact that since the plant has gone online there has been no monitoring of pollutants in our air, water, or soil. We demand transparency: the results of monitoring must be made public. The SCAQMD, which is responsible for monitoring, must measure the pollution at strategic locations, on a regular basis, but without giving the plant a chance to skew the results.

    The natural gas burned by CPV Sentinel is necessarily produced by an atrocious process known as fracturing, aka fracking. Take a few seconds to imagine Mother Earth being “fractured” up to a mile beneath her surface, against her will. Earthquakes are occurring more and more often; there was a series of 3.5 earthquakes in the area in September. Meanwhile, the methane gas released is more poisonous than CO2.

    Representative Raul Ruiz, MD, has agreed to contribute to the effort of testing young, school-aged children for the current health condition of their lungs. These initial results will serve as the baseline with which to compare future testing results. We believe this will give us indisputable proof of the serious harm we are being subjected to because of CPV Sentinel’s operations.

    Members of POP have not given up the fight, daunting as it is, to shut down CPV Sentinel. We are educating the public at large in hopes they will help us to build strength in numbers. We are also soliciting help from officialdom. It must be well understood by one and all: People, our interests, our well-being come before profits, contrary to the belief of the 1%!

    Power to the People!

  2. Hey folks,

    It’d be good to have an update here. There’s been a lot going on since January, right? Or am I missing it?

    • Updates will be on the website as they are sent in for posting. Check out the two new links on the Stop Sentinel page and the Environmental Issues custom menu in the righthand sidebar of the home page.

  3. CPV Sentinel plant would produce annually 3 to 6 million of CO2 if operated continuously. When covering the peak electricity demand it ill be over 2 million CO2.
    SO2 production would be 7.5 tons annually. Acid rain from SO2 would destroy pine forests of San Jacinto Park and desert flora.
    Carbon soot particulates as PM-10 microns and PM-2.5microns cause cancer.

  4. CPV Sentinel Gas Plant – Necessary Evil or Just Evil

    Contrary to the SCAQMD’s claim that the public was notified of the plans to build a power plant but showed no interest in it, almost no one we’ve spoken to during our numerous petition campaigns was aware of any such plans for a plant, even now, in its final days of construction.  

    The estimates of particulate matter, PM10, and PM2.5, as well as CO2, are way above State EPA and Federal EPA guidelines, in fact new, (Dec 2012), PM2.5 standards put them even further out of compliance at almost 300% of guidelines. PM2.5 is considered the most harmful, affecting infants, the eldery, and those with respirtory problems first, and possibly causing death.

     “CPV Sentinel never intended on using reclaimed water, but [initially] used the ‘reclaimed water’ catch-phrase as a bogus enticement to draw support from high level officials”, per Randy Duncan the then Chairman of the Board of the MSWD. His letter to the CEC concerning this, though part of the record, has never been addressed. The plan is to cool the plant with pristine drinking water from MSWD, to be replaced by toxic Colorado River water, at a rate of aprox 2,000 gpm.
    The source of Natural Gas is questionable, and the reliability of the existing pipeline has not been explored.
    The draw down of water exposes delicate ecosystems including dune habitat. The pollution could destroy delicate ecosystems on federal lands,including Joshua Tree National Park, which in turn would further endanger vulnerable wildlife, including the Desert Tortoise and the Big Horn Sheep in the Sand to Snow Wildlife Corridor.
    The CEC is not doing its job to “Protect the environment, and protect public health and safety.” Nor is the SCAQMD doing its job to “protect the health of residents.”  Nor is the Federal EPA doing its job to Protect the Environment.  Thus Coachella Valley is being used as a dumping ground, and its residents are put at risk.

    The CEC falsely claimed “Alternative Energy is not available in the Coachella Valley.” We should be funding research and development of technology (eg, batteries) to store energy produced by the area’s plentiful sun and wind power.  Similarly, the CEC failed to consider our tremendously abundant geothermal resources as a viable alternative to the use of fossil fuels. 
    Further, we are are concerned by issues surrounding the so called mitigation funds, namely: Residential Rooftop Solar is NOT being allowed as a mitigation option.
    The health of the citizens are being dismissed in favor of pork barrel politics.

    Supervisor John Benoit, as Chairman of CVAG, advocated for a bike path along the Whitewater River for years. Benoit was a leading advocate of the plant, and has pushed this plant. He helped write the bill, (AB1318), that allowed this plant to be built, using pollution credits. These pollution credits were never meant to be used for power plants, and were sold at 1/6 the going rate. And now, as SCAQMD Board member, he helps make the final decision on allocating mitigation funds.  No surprise that the SCAQMD saw fit to award $19.5 million from these funds for the bike/golf cart path.
    The SCAQMD wants to claim $2.65 million of the mitigation funds for administration, which they are already paid by taxpayers to do.

    Since the plant is intended to be operational for 30 years, during which period the pollution will continue, the amount of mitigation funds should have been on a yearly basis.  Thus, if the plant were to become operational in mid-2013, the cities in the area most affected by the pollution, hence most in need of mitigation funds, should receive $4.5 billion by mid-2033.  

    The mitigation process was opaque, preventing input from the public.
    The CEC also falsely claimed that seismic vulnerability is “of little or no significance,” not once mentioning that the plant sits neatly between two major spurs of the San Andreas Fault.  It is well known around the world that we are long overdue for an earthquake here, bigger than we have ever experienced.  Thus, this omission of fact is at the very least dangerously and unacceptably irresponsible, if not criminally negligent on the part of the CEC and all other agencies that ignored it.  Those who collaborated in allowing this monstrosity to be constructed are guilty of misleading and endangering the public for selfish and ignoble purposes. 
    Let it be known that corruption, deceit, and other criminal ignominies have not gone unnoticed!

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