Letter to the editor:
How I love free press but what we have here is a failure to communicate and understand. I have called Mammoth Lakes Home for just shy of 38 years, I am a home owner, business owner, property owner, MCWD Board Member, Coach, Volunteer, Father, Husband and a friend to some. Or put another way, this is my home and this is the community I live in and care deeply about; the rest of the stuff is just part of the WHY!
I don’t read multiple newspapers each day and I don’t speak multiple languages. But I do take the time to learn and understand an issue before I open my mouth.
You all know our Neighbor Ormat, located right outside our city limits. They have a little Geo-Thermal project located at the junction of Hwy. 395 and 203. Ormat is also in the process of proposing to enlarge their project and produce more clean renewable energy by means of mining geo-thermal heat via steam with some added iso-butane; run through turbines that produce energy that is sold to electric companies and then the cooled water is returned to the ground in and around the Plant that is located at 395 & 203.
Great, simple to the point, clean, long lasting, environmentally friendly and supported by many government agencies. After all what are a few above ground pipe lines with 360 degree water running through our forest going to hurt or a few 3 acre well sites built around our town’s main park going to hurt? The hum of the pumps, the vaporizing steam heating the ground and the heat from the pipes may even melt the snow quicker so we can play on the fields sooner; and as long as it is windy we don’t have to worry about the carbon dioxide and hydrogen
sulfide gas emissions at each well location.
So I ask myself why all the fuss and I look for the simplest of answers to understand and support this project? To share with everyone what my questions and concerns are and encourage everyone to ask their own questions so we may all sleep better at night.
Sustainable energy – wonderful but why is Ormat looking to drill and pump in different locations now, have they used up the hot water where they are? Maybe the sustainable part is not so sustainable. What happens when the heat runs out under the Shady Rest Park area? Will Ormat propose drilling in the Knolls, they have a test well on the scenic loop already?
No effect on our water – wonderful but why did the surface pond next to 395 disappear after the Geo-thermal plant opened 30 years ago and has never returned? Why has the MCWD well site located at Sam’s Wood Site shown signs of elevated heat and chemicals that are indicative of Geo-Thermal sources? Why is vegetation dying from the Plant and moving westward?
Added tax dollars for the county and town – wonderful but why has Ormat appealed the valuation that is currently on the books in Mono County in order to reduce their tax burden from $1.7m to less than $700k? This has affected our local schools, town and water district to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
What are the real numbers that may be pumped in acre feet of water and how is that monitored? Ormat will not make those numbers public, that information is proprietary to Ormat and they will not share it with the public. You see Ormat does not want to risk another competitor coming in and mining all the geo-thermal energy! RIGHTTT.
Why has the USGS recommended that at least one deep monitoring well be installed to monitor our area along with shallow wells? Why has USGS shown us that the ground around the wells that Ormat wants to develop has a ground temperature in excess of 200 degrees F a mere 4” to 1’ below the surface? Why are we even talking about the USGS? Well, they have been around these parts doing a lot of measuring and viewing of our area since before 1980 when we had a few quakes.
As a matter of fact why is there any argument at all about this? We are talking about a $100m- $150m Project (or so says Ormat) and a Community that has a taxable asset value of close to $4 Billion. Why in the world would we not assume that Ormat would be willing to do the right thing to put the 8000 residences of town at ease even if it meant spending 5+ million dollars for monitoring? After all that is 3 to 5% of the entire project, how absurd that we add to the project cost to protect the community’s water and allow everyone to sleep at night. Or could it be that Ormat knows something we don’t and the reality is with such monitoring you would see effects and it would cause the shutdown of the project thereby threatening the entire project? Keep in mind we are still arguing about monitoring and not the mitigation part which Ormat has not even mentioned.
One can only wonder why we are where we are, however from my point of view and as a MCWD board member I will not risk this community’s water, livelihood and future to any corporation whether they be near or far in ownership or in their concern for our community. I intend to stand up to the agencies that seem to be very involved with Ormat and this project, I intend to protect Shady Rest where our kids and adults play and ensure the water of this community. And while we are on the subject of water I am proud of the results that the MCWD was able to achieve with LADWP without a costly and lengthy legal battle with an uncertain outcome. If anyone would like all the details of that issue all you have to do is call me. Mr. Hyde, ask and learn about LADWP and our water before you assume anyone played dead.
In closing and in reference to the esteemed intellectual elite of Mammoth that is “on a higher plane” I can only suggest that maybe the Dunning-Kruger effect may be prevalent here or at the least “the anosognosia of everyday life” has gotten the better of Mr. Hyde.
Dunning and Kruger were awarded the 2000 satirical lg Nobel Prize Psychology for their paper, “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments”.