Letter to the editor: “Inyo County Learned Helplessness Syndrome”

Inyo Sups 2013Inyo County Learned Helplessness Syndrome (ICLHS) is a behavioral disorder which affects Inyo County adults without regard to gender or ethnicity.  Victims experience loss of nerve, the sensation of having no backbone, and feel powerless, especially after learning about actions of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP).

ICLHS was on display last week when the Inyo County Board of Supervisors (BOS) discussed Inyo County’s comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report for DWP’s proposed Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch.  Several members of the public urged the BOS to work to oppose the project.  The BOS pointed out that the LA Board of Water and Power Commissioners would make the final decision, asked whether the County zoning could be changed to accommodate the project, and speculated that planting trees might make the project acceptable.  The idea that the BOS could show leadership and try to rally opposition to the project never came up.

With the BOS incapacitated, it is up to individuals to act.  The best way to fight ICLHS and the proposed solar project is to make your voice heard.  If the proposed project becomes a political liability in Los Angeles an alternative will be found.

I suggest sending a letter to Mayor Garcetti and a copy to Mel Levine, the new head of the LA Board of Water and Power Commissioners.  Point out that DWP is reverting to its old trick of shamelessly exploiting Owens Valley.  The project will obliterate almost 60 archaeological sites, at least five rare plant populations, and industrialize one of the most spectacular landscapes in the country.  In addition to violating Inyo County zoning, the project is inconsistent with the goals of the Land Management Plans required under the MOU to the Inyo-LA Long Term Water Agreement.  Mayor Garcetti should be reminded that Los Angeles has plenty of unused sunshine and that Owens Valley has already sacrificed far more than its share for the growth of Los Angeles.  Rather than increasing its dependence on Owens Valley resources, LA should work toward resource self-sufficiency.

If everyone who reads this were to write such a letter, and ask a friend to write such a letter, it could have an effect.  Other industrial solar projects will be proposed in Owens Valley when existing transmission lines are upgraded. If we can’t stop this project, there is little hope of stopping the others.

Daniel Pritchett, Bishop


33 Responses to Letter to the editor: “Inyo County Learned Helplessness Syndrome”

  1. Eastern Sierra Local October 26, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

    Little known fact unless you’re in the “know”: there’s a solar farm proposal in Coso Junction right now by a private company; they are quietly acquiring easements and rights all over Rose Valley/Coso Junction.

  2. Paddy Hearst October 23, 2013 at 7:52 pm #

    More likely Stockholm Syndrome.

  3. Mongo The Idiot October 23, 2013 at 9:53 am #

    “The project will obliterate almost 60 archaeological sites, at least five rare plant populations, and industrialize one of the most spectacular landscapes in the country.”




    • Eastside Dweller October 24, 2013 at 8:24 pm #

      Mongo, I would hammer on the cultural, historic, biological, spiritual and aesthetic points. Those clearly are where your heart is and will sway many people. If you can use your artistic talents to reach LA media and citizens also, much good could come of it.

      • Mongo The Idiot October 25, 2013 at 10:22 am #

        Thanks E.D.
        I was thinking I could re-brand my line “Mongo” instead of using my name as I have in the past and offer my things along 395. My reluctance is in the fact that I have worked very hard and now want to retire to fishing, hunting, exploring, camping, hiking, cooking, guitar playing, boating, dirt biking, Oak Pit BBQ, and so on. I see Annenberg promotes communication through the arts and have thought about calling them. Problem is that I have never communicated well with social prestige based organizations or individuals.
        “Watershed Light” could be a good name for illuminated sculpture or lighting. I was also thinking that it would be fun to do an obsolete photography process project involving the evolution of one race by documenting contemporary interracial couples posed with their offspring. “Emerging Race” would be a fun play on the E.S. Curtis title “Vanishing Race”. Very long exposures using immobilizers have a tendency to extract nuances of personality that an instantaneous image will miss. I find the mixing of many races due to advances in transportation and communication fascinating; especially that which is occurring in the Owens between Whites and Native Americans. It needs to be documented and acknowledged. The Owens is ripe with opportunity for the artistic documentation of overlooked mixes and situational events.
        If someone who enjoys self promotion wants these ideas, they are yours. I have quite a bit more information on how to do it well, feel free to post if you want it.

    • MajorTom October 25, 2013 at 9:08 am #

      EIRs are the process by which agencies study the effects they might have on the environment. They are required to do their own EIRs, or contract with someone to do the study for them. If the agency is smart, it will uncover every possible impact and consider and mitigate it before proceeding.

  4. Mongo The Idiot October 23, 2013 at 8:45 am #


    The Board of Supervisors can be removed and replaced NOW! It is not the board that is spineless, it is the population of Inyo.

    Here is a recent incident in which a recall worked:

    • Ted October 24, 2013 at 10:44 am #

      1st and 3rd District Supervisors are up for reelection next year; if you want…start there. But you’ll find nearly every newly elected official that has great plans for “opposition” find reality in the limitations of the office when they get in. Daniel likes to beat up the supervisors with self inflicted ignorance on that subject.

      BUT I do support his realistic assertion that WE as residence of the colony have the ability to shame the LADWP by going directly to the people of Los Angeles. They are already not happy with the LADWP and there is an unprecedented ally in the mayor of that city.

      As much as I disagree with Daniel, I support his unbending dedication to his cause to make sure the discussion continues to take place.

    • MajorTom October 24, 2013 at 10:53 am #

      Recall the Board of Supervisors for what? They do not approve or deny LADWP projects. Not only that, the Board raised questions about the project as part of the DWP process and DWP hasn’t even approved the project yet. It is a fallacy to say the county does not stand up to DWP – it has been doing so since the seventies.

      • Mongo The Idiot October 24, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

        Maj. Tom
        Boards may pass and repeal laws, generally called ordinances.
        The article implies that the Inyo County Board of Supervisors is spineless in regard to passing or repealing ordinances when DWP is concerned.
        This being the case, the board may not be properly representing their constituency and may be subject to recall.
        Thank you for asking.

        • MajorTom October 25, 2013 at 9:04 am #

          You can’t pass an ordinance to make DWP go away. They own the valley. The article says the board raised objections in the EIR record, which is the process the law provides for addressing these types of projects. The county passed an ordinance on renewable energy, which may yet come into play. Sounds to me like they’ve done a lot. A good strategy might be to concentrate your ire on the ones who are proposing to build the powerplant, rather than the ones who are looking after the valley.

          • Mongo The Idiot October 25, 2013 at 10:39 am #

            The laws are already in place and they need to be enforced instead issuing variance.
            – Native sites are protected and cant be violated with construction under law.
            – Native plants and species are protected and can’t be destroyed under law.
            – Scenic byways and open space is protected and cant be destroyed under law.
            DWP needs to obey the law.
            I am not against solar arrays, I am just opposed to them on a scenic byway.
            Why cant these panels be placed in one of the many other sprawling isolated regions. My guess is that it is political.

  5. MJA October 23, 2013 at 8:25 am #

    I think we need alternative energy and am glad they are not building another coal or nuclear power plant. As for aesthetics,I’ve always found the solar panels at 4 Corners to be interesting if not pleasing to see. Harnessing the power of the Sun appeals to me. = ,

    • Mongo The Idiot October 23, 2013 at 9:55 am #

      Why not make Los Angeles more pretty and put the solar panels there?
      Inyo is pretty enough.

    • Sue Hutson October 23, 2013 at 11:17 am #

      Solar panels here and there throughout the eastern sierra are wonderful and I hope to see more of them, but not 2 square miles covering our landscape! LADWP knows and cares so little about our area that they stated they would be kept clean by rainfall! LA is way overdue for panels on their own roofs.

      • Eastside Dweller October 23, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

        Agree that this is wrong project, but DWP and other utilities do know about this area and how to build and maintain power plants here. To take everything they say as ignorant would be ignorance on our part and counterproductive. As others have pointed out, time is short and arguments must be focused and relevant. Check out article below.

        Cleaning solar panels often not worth the cost, engineers find
        Jul 31, 2013 – Don’t hire someone to wash your dirty solar panels. That’s the conclusion of a study recently conducted by a team of engineers at the University ..

    • Mark October 23, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

      Solar is good but it’s coal and nuclear power that keeps the lights on

      • The Aggressive Progressive! October 24, 2013 at 8:12 am #

        Yep! and unfortunately those industries have a foot to the neck of the republican party to never vote against them or be subject to face their big money influence with a opposing candidate of the same party.
        Ask yourself this, Why is that? why does coal and nuclear continue to keep the lights on? when we know the harm it is doing to the environment around us?
        Since I tend to ask myself questions like that I also wonder why we kick the individuals who are addicted to drugs around so much, we say things like “how can you do that to yourself” well look at what we are doing to our MotherEarth!
        Then I ask myself what is more harmful, the individual addicted to drugs? or the individual addicted to power?

        • MajorTom October 25, 2013 at 8:54 am #

          But nuclear power provides a steady source of energy without harming the atmosphere, which is the most important imperative of our time. Nuclear power can be managed so that it does not harm the environment, with smart siting, recycling of spent fuel, and common sense disposal. Less lives are loss and people maimed providing nuclear power than oil or coal. We need more nuclear and we need to make the power plants safer and the technology safer. There is no time to invent new forms of power generation while the earth heats up.

      • Ken Warner October 24, 2013 at 8:38 am #

        Yes, and that’s why we need photovoltaic-solar, thermal-solar, wind farms, trash to energy conversion, hydro-electric and anything else we can think of including squirrels on treadmills.

        Also, there are methods for producing electricity that are still unthought of. 100 years from now, Solar panels may look that same to people of that time as steam engines look to us. But we can’t wait. The tipping point for catastrophic climate change is coming and there won’t be any going back

        • Mark October 24, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

          The only sources you mentioned that can keep the lights on at night were wind farms, trash to energy conversion, and hydro-electric.

          Hydro-electric has Its own environmental issues due to the damming of rivers. The other two can’t come close to competing with Coal, Natural Gas, and Nuclear, so we need another source if we’re going to keep the lights on at night.

          Electricity is tough to store once it is made. I have friends who are making electricity by wind generation then storing the energy as hydrogen gas, however this has been proven to be wasteful. The large amount of energy required to isolate hydrogen from the natural compounds, package the light gas by compression or liquefaction, transfer the energy carrier to the user, plus the energy lost when it is converted to useful electricity with fuel cells, leave around 25% for practical use.

          An unacceptable value to run an economy in a sustainable future.

          Obama’s war on coal is premature and unacceptable until a real sustainable power source is secured. Wind & solar is not the sustainable answer, it is only there to be used when available.

          • Eastside Dweller October 24, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

            Use solar to heat water and buildings. Heat can be stored and conserved overnight. This reduces use of electricity, coal and petroleum for heating. Use conserved fossil fuels in existing power plants to balance out inconsistent solar and wind electrical generation. Avoid building new fossil fuel plants as we use our brains to change consumption behavior and develop more efficient machines.

            Gradually and efficiently replace old technology with new while training workers to transition also. Replace one incandescent bulb with one LED light bulb at a time as you can afford it and the price will continue to go down as demand increases. Replace one power plant at a time as they wear out with something better. Most of all, turn out the lights when you aren’t using them.

          • Ken Warner October 25, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

            “Obamas war on coal” God give me strength! And how about Obama’s war on war? That’s costing the defense industry billions. We had two solid wars going when he took office and we had the chance to bomb Libya and Syria and Iran and he just sat there.

            But if we could store electricity, would you then not support coal fired electric generation plants?


            But I also think that thorium nuclear plants hold great promise but they have not gathered much support — probably because of the coal and uranium nuclear lobbies against them.

            Or maybe we could just turn a lot of the lights off. Like Las Vegas????

          • Mongo The Idiot October 26, 2013 at 10:27 am #

            Solar panels can charge battery banks that keep the lights on at night. I have been to off grid houses that do this. Why so much disagreement on the subject?

          • Benett Kessler October 27, 2013 at 9:33 am #

            Mono, FYI – we need your real name and city of residence to post a Letter to the Editor.

          • Mark October 26, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

            I have batteries on my system now. They require maintainance, they are dangerous, and a pain in the butt.

            If we could store power on a large scale I probably would not suport coal generation, but more importantly we need to find a bunch of West Virginia coal miners another line of work first. The coal industry payroll is nearly $2 billion per year.

          • Eastside Dweller October 26, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

            Mongo, batteries require mining of metals that causes environmental damage and then the disposal or recycling of the hazardous waste. Energy storage and conservation are key points.

      • Steve October 25, 2013 at 8:03 am #

        It is money that keeps the lights on. We have a choice to spend it on coal witch is literally burning the earth. Or solar that dose it’s burning on the sun.

        I say let the sun do the burning.

  6. Eastern Sierra Local October 23, 2013 at 8:02 am #

    CEQA and this environmental document isn’t up for “vote” and can’t be “opposed.” CEQA is about full disclosure of a project’s impacts to the Environment. If the City’s environmental document lacks in clearing a project’s impacts then that needs to be pointed out but public opposition can’t stop a project.

  7. The Aggressive Progressive! October 23, 2013 at 7:43 am #

    Right on Daniel!
    Will definitely follow through with your suggestion..

    Mayor Eric Garcetti
    200 N. Spring St.
    Los Angeles, CA 90012
    (213) 978-0600
    [email protected]

    Board of Commissioners

    Los Angeles Department of
    Water and Power
    Room 1555-H, 15th Floor
    111 North Hope Street
    Los Angeles, CA 90012


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