After they talked for about an hour, it still wasn’t exactly clear why Supervisors Linda Arcularius and Matt Kingsley wanted to get more seats for Inyo County on the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control Board and why now.
The agenda said The two board members were requesting the Air Pollution Control Board to recommend and the District’s member agencies to concur in modifying the agreement between Inyo, Mono and Alpine counties forming the Air Board to provide the County of Inyo with representation on the Air Pollution Control Board “proportional to Inyo County’s relative population and responsibility for District liabilities.”
As for liabilities, Deputy APCD Director Duane Ono told the Inyo Board that Inyo County pays “zero towards lawsuits and damages.” Ono said the Inyo County Counsel is reimbursed for expenses. He said the City of Los Angeles is obligated to pay legal expenses.
But Supervisor Linda Arcularius said if APCD did lose a lawsuit, damages could fall back on Inyo County through a Joint Powers Agreement. Inyo’s County Counsel will look into that, which still doesn’t explain how more seats on the APCD board would change anything.
Arcularius and Kingsley did bring up population and change over time, but Supervisor Rick Pucci told the two officials that population is not the only factor when it comes to the make-up of the Air Board. Arcularius said things have changed over time with the Owens Lake clean-up nearly done and the need to conserve on water and create public access to wildlife. Those ideas lead to LADWP’s plans to cut back water use at the lake and Arcularius’s plans to use more water for ranchers.
Supervisor Kingsley repeated that he wants to “serve his constituents.” He did not say exactly how. More seats on the APCD Board could give Inyo more power over matters, although Arcularius said, “Power is not even a word I know how to articulate.”
Supervisor Jeff Griffiths said he would defer to the two board members to explore any solutions and initiate discussions with the City of Bishop regarding the opportunity for a member from the City of Bishop to join the APCD Board.
On Monday, Mono County Supervisors Larry Johnston and Byng Hunt said any changes on the Air Board should wait. Hunt said he could “only guess that relations between LADWP and Inyo County are so fragile that Supervisors Arcularius and Kingsley are looking for ways to better control their political interactions with LADWP. Population numbers,” said Hunt, “have nothing to do with the make-up of the Air Board which has been functioning well according to mutual design over recent years. I suspect that the honorable Supervisors from Inyo County will face some strong opposition in their efforts to modify the make-up of the Great Basin Board if they choose to proceed.”
Johnston said any changes should wait until the new members take their seats next year. He said the changes proposed by Arcularius and Kingsley would not sit well with him. APCD Director Ted Schade could not attend Tuesday’s Board meeting. He had gone to his annual conference. Before leaving, Schade did say he strongly recommends the current balance of authority not be changed. He said, “The existing make-up of the Great Basin Board has allowed air quality standards to be met in Mammoth Lakes and Coso Junction and soon at Owens and Mono Lakes. There is no reason to change the makeup of a very successful environmental protection authority.”
This issue will come up at the Great Basin Board meeting on Friday which starts at 10:30 am in Suite Z in Mammoth Lakes.