APCD director explains Ormat decision

APCD Director Ted Schade

APCD Director Ted Schade

Mammoth Community Water District officials issued a press release this week to say that Air Pollution Control District Director Ted Schade had moved ahead to certify the EIR on Ormat Geothermal’s expansion plans in the Mammoth area. In an email to both sides, Schade explains that he tried to get the geothermal people and water district to agree on a monitoring and mitigation plan. In his email Schade also said that he will not issue additional well permits to Ormat until a monitoring plan is in place.

Schade’s email to the water district, Ormat, BLM and the Forest Service details a year-long effort to urge Ormat and water officials to reach agreement on a monitoring plan for the proposed Casa Diablo 4 geothermal plant and well field.

In his email, Schade said his hopes for a monitoring plan agreement are futile. He said, “I do not believe Ormat and MCWD are anywhere near an agreement. This is very disappointing. I had hoped that my direction to the parties and my continued delay in certifying the EIR would act as leverage to bring the parties together. It seems that my lever was far too small to move the parties toward agreement.”

Schade also said he believes BLM is the agency that should oversee development of a monitoring plan. He also made it clear that while he has issued the permit for the new plant, he will not issue additional well permits until a monitoring plan is in place.

APCD Director Schade also said he is convinced that even if a monitoring plan is developed, the EIR will be litigated. Schade said the Water District manager assured him MCWD would not litigate the issue, but there are others who could.

Citizens and officials in the Mammoth Lakes community, nationally elected officials and others fear dangerous impacts on Mammoth’s water supply if there is not a monitoring plan in place for the new geothermal wells. Although Schade has said he will not issue well permits until a monitoring plan exists.

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9 Responses to APCD director explains Ormat decision

  1. Poncho July 24, 2014 at 9:26 pm #

    Gas emission problems as a result of extraction from the wells.

  2. Grover July 23, 2014 at 10:09 pm #

    Understood. At least there should be no way to get a well permit via AQPC without mitigating for gas emissions.

    • Concerned about water July 24, 2014 at 7:00 pm #

      I don’t know if you are aware the monitoring is underground and not air. This is about water Quality.

      Ok so the project will get built less new wells. How is that going to work. How is APCD going to stop a well. Does the APCD have any say on a underground well?

      • Durrell Coleman July 24, 2014 at 10:51 pm #

        District rules require Permits to Construct and Permits to Operate geothermal wells.

        • Concerned about water July 25, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

          Durrell ,
          Do you work for the APCD? I don’t see your name on the website. I also do not see where the district is responsible for wells. I thoroughly understand the issues of emissions of the plant as they do emit some Isobutane into the air. That would definitely be the concern of the district.

          In any respect it is my personal opinion that the battle to gain a more extensive monitoring and mitigation efforts have been lost.
          What ever leverage APCD had, it gave away by accepting and certifying the EIR. Furthermore as the article reads, A permit has been issued for the power plant to start construction.

          Does anyone out there think that once the plant is well under construction or built will have to tear it down. Ormat has the APCD findings on its side now. The town of Mammoth has been sold out once again.

          The only thing left to do is litigate and of course that will cost the folks of Mammoth lakes once again.

        • Ted Schade July 26, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

          The drilling and operation of geothermal wells are potential sources of air emissions, especially methane. As such they require permits to construct and operate. I have notified Ormat that I will not issue any more well permits until a monitoring plan is in place. This will allow the inevitable EIR litigation to take place while Ormat, BLM and MCWD work on a monitoring plan.

          • Ken Warner July 27, 2014 at 8:23 am #

            Ted Schade: Insisting on a water monitoring plan for monitoring the extraction of water and possible cross contamination of the potable aquifer seems like a simple precaution. I can’t understand the resistance of Ormat to this idea.

          • Mammoth resident July 27, 2014 at 10:01 am #

            Thank you Ted.
            However that still does not put many of us at ease. When have no guarantee that you will still be around when this comes back for a well permit
            Like others have said all this will do is probably cause MCWD to litigate and cost our town more money for what seems reasonable.

            To only monitor the well only at the upper portion of the well is so short sided as you only get a portion of the whole picture. With technology as it is today we should get as much info as possible. The problem I see is that Ormat may learn something they do not want anyone to know. For a EIR to state such extensive monitoring is not proven to be necessary is an outright fraud to the public.

            This is our water at stake. This is our livelihood at stake.

            I bet the cost to fight will cost as much or more than the cost to put the measure in place.

            We want these types of energy production. We don’t want to ruin the water.

            What is so wrong with being cautious.

            Oh and where is Lahontan with all this. Those folks will stop a home from being built on a legal lot because it may disturb a fish or fowl or maybe a bug. But potential devastation to our water is ok.

          • Mammoth resident July 27, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

            MCWD Wants deeper monitoring wells than Ormat. The deeper wells may offer information that Ormat would prefer not to be known. MCWD also wants a mitigation plan in the event that something goes wrong. The parties refuse to reach agreement as to what is necessary.


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