In recent news reports, Inyo County CAO Kevin Carunchio is quoted as saying the county’s “first and foremost” concern with DWP’s proposed project is impacts to “local services” such as law enforcement and housing. As a result, county staff negotiated terms of a potential MOU to offset some — but not all — of the project’s potential impacts to local services.
I always thought the scope of county government’s concern was supposed to be the entire county, not just “local services.” Judging by terms of the proposed MOU, those of us who value our spectacular natural and cultural landscapes, open space, clean air, and native plants and animals apparently weren’t represented by county staff’ in the secret negotiations with DWP.
According to Carunchio, the terms of the MOU didn’t represent, “an automatic kowtow to LA” but rather, “prudence based on experience with BrightSource.” I would like to believe this is true, but history suggests otherwise. I will leave it to readers to recall the numerous examples of Inyo County kowtowing to DWP, rather than taking up space listing my own favorites.
In my comments at the August 6 Board of Supervisors meeting regarding the proposed MOU I stated that the county should seek to partner with other groups to oppose DWP’s ill-considered project rather than acquiescing. Mr. Carunchio himself mentioned this possibility of collaboration in opposition to the project in his subsequent comments to the Board.
According to news reports, the Manzanar Committee, Manzanar National Historic Site, and the Lone Pine and Big Pine Tribes are already on record opposing the project. We can now add the Owens Valley Committee as well, which voted unanimously at its last board meeting to oppose industrial-scale solar in Owens Valley. I urge Mr. Carunchio to follow through with this proposal to collaborate before it is too late. Instead of secret meetings with DWP let there be open meetings with interested parties as soon as possible. I suggest many individuals and groups would wish to participate in addition to the ones listed above.