Surfers Fight Destruction of World-Class Baja Surf Spot

A consortium of environmental groups including WiLDCOAST, Save the Waves Coalition, and Surfrider Foundation, as well as a group of big-wave surfers, including 2004 Billabong Big Wave Challenge nominee Greg Long, have joined forces to fight the destruction of Harry’s, a world-class right, located at Costa Azul, just 12 miles north of Ensenada in Baja California, Mexico.

The shallow-water right-hand barrel will be replaced by a 600 million dollar Sempra/Shell liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal. Until now, the location of the wave has remained a secret and surfed only by a handful of surfers from the U.S. and Mexico.

“Harry’s is an epic, backdoor barrel that will go the way of Killer Dana if we don’t stop if from being destroyed,” said Greg Long, a 20-year old San Clemente surfer and the 2003/2004 recipient of the Billabong Big Wave Challenge Jay Moriarty Overall Performance Award for his dedication to surfing big waves.

Former Surfer Magazine photo editor Jason Murray has documented Greg and his brother Rusty surfing the live urchin covered rock reef at Harry’s and only recently learned that the site will be lost to development. According to Murray, “If the construction of the Sempra-Shelll LNG terminal happens, we are going to lose one of the most dynamic and beautiful waves in the North Pacific.”

In May 2003, Surfer magazine featured Harry’s on its cover. The popular magazine also included a large editorial feature showcasing the beauty of the Costa Azul site that is the largest stretch of undeveloped coastline between Tijuana and Ensenada.

“Our coast is being industrialized so fast that we’re losing waves before we get a chance to surf them,“ said Serge Dedina, Executive Director of WiLDCOAST and winner of the 2003 Surf Industry Manufacturer Association “Environmentalist of the Year” Award. “If the state of California just followed its own Energy Action Plan calling for energy efficiency and the use of renewables it would eliminate the need for new LNG terminals.”

The surfers are joining a coalition of environmental groups from the U.S. and Mexico who are protesting a Sept. 2, 2004 decision by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) that opens the door to Southern California utility customers being charged for natural gas transmission system upgrades and natural gas supplies coming from LNG facilities in Baja California. Sempra has fought community activists’ attempts to deal with these issues in an open evidentiary process before the CPUC. The decision is being appealed.

Sempra will almost certainly be successful in passing all financial risk associated with the Costa Azul LNG facility onto Southern California gas utility ratepayers if the CPUC decision stands. Sempra owns the Southern California gas utilities SoCalGas and SDGE. There is currently no prohibition against the Sempra/Shell joint venture selling directly to both utility companies.

The Sempra-Shell project at Costa Azul is one of five LNG projects planned for the coast of California and Baja California. Additionally, Chevron-Texaco, BHP Billiton, and Mitsubishi, plan on building liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals on the coast or offshore from Ventura, Long Beach, Oceanside/San Notre, and the Coronado Islands off the coast of Baja California.

WiLDCOAST and Save the Waves are asking surfers to sign a petition urging the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to end their support for the Sempra-Shell Project.
“Surf spots continue to be destroyed around the world despite the rapid growth of the global surf market. Waves like Harry’s should be recognized as natural treasures,” said Will Henry, Executive Director of Save the Waves Coalition. “The world needs more places to surf, not less of them.”

For more info on how to help, please log on to savethewaves.org.