Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,Hope you’re staying in the shade and otherwise cool during the record-breaking heat this summer! Summer hasn’t brought any breaks for MBCA directors working to monitor several proposed projects and initiatives. But, we will take a bit of a break in August for the annual MBCA board retreat where we review the year and look ahead to what’s coming our way – time to reflect and gear-up!Ord Mountain Solar Project – scoping commentsThis 484-acre, 60 MW industrial scale solar project that includes a Southern California Edison sub-station is proposed to be constructed north of Lucerne Valley straddling Highway 247. The County has mandated that an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) be prepared for this project with the first step being to obtain scoping comments describing the issues to be included within this EIR. MBCA has submitted a letter emphasizing the deficiencies inherent in this project, and has joined our high desert conservation partners in the Lucerne Valley by signing onto a comprehensive letter of scoping comments – for this ill-conceived project. During the very well attended scoping meeting held in Lucerne Valley, many residents articulately expressed their concern about the County accepting an application for this project while the Renewable Energy and Conservation Element (RECE) of the General Plan is being considered. We will continue to follow this project as the preparation of the EIR proceeds.Renewable Energy and Conservation Element (RECE)This Element is critical to establishing the goals and principals that will guide the County in planning for the future of renewables in our desert areas. The RECE is on the agenda to be considered by the Board of Supervisors at their August 8 meeting. This meeting will be broadcast at the Bob Burke conference room at the Joshua Tree government center. Plan to attend and let the County hear again our local concerns.Neil Nadler of The Alliance for Desert Preservation reports that 1,500 Lucerne Valley residents have signed a petition that asks the County to include within the RECE, a restriction on the approval of any industrial scale renewable energy project, after appropriate review, to five specific areas that that are away from local communities and close to existing transmission lines where the land has already been severely degraded: Kramer Junction, El Mirage, Hinckley, Trona, and Amboy. MBCA will have a table with maps in front of JT Health Food this Saturday, July 15th to collect signatures from the Morongo Basin. Please stop by, sign and say hello!Air Quality MonitoringThe unsolved problem: No economical or truly effective way of taming dust raised during construction or blown from pathways between hundreds of solar panels.What: Lucerne Valley-Johnson Valley Municipal Advisory Council (MAC)Where: Lucerne Valley Community Center on Hwy 247 next to Pioneer ParkWhen: Thursday, July 20, 5:00 p.m.The Lucerne Valley-Johnson Valley MAC will consider endorsing a letter to County planners recommending installation before construction, at the developer's cost, of instruments to measure the dust particles in the air, to be monitored by the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District (MDAQMD). Representatives of the AQMD will speak at the meeting and residents will have the opportunity to comment.The scraping of the crust of desert soils multiplies the air pollution with the desert’s high winds and traveling sands. Lucerne residents have expressed great concern about the health effects of breathing dust generated by industrial scale renewable energy projects, as well as impacts on residential property values. Proposed pollution monitoring and controls by the MDAQMD will be valuable to prove the harm industrial scale solar projects have on the region’s air quality.The Morongo Basin also experiences negative cumulative impacts of industrial scale solar development. MBCA strongly supports our neighbors to the north in Lucerne Valley calling for regulations for monitoring equipment to document harmful air quality impacts of developments scraping the desert.Support for Off Highway Vehicle Recreation Act - SB 249MBCA has written a letter in support of this important piece of legislation that would continue to fund OHV enforcement. Here in the Morongo Basin many properties are afflicted by illegal OHV trespass exacerbated by the patchwork of BLM and County roads. Remember to call or email State Senators to ask for their support of the OHVRA/ SB 249 (for details see: ORV Watch/COW website.)Desert WaterMBCA signed on to a letter initiated by the National Parks Conservation Association to Senator Hertzberg, Chair, California Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee. The letter stated a coalition of conservation partners’ opposition to federal administration actions to waive the federal review of the Cadiz project and roll back of environmental protections.MBCA is in support of California legislation AB 1000 that seeks to increase California's involvement in the Cadiz project by requiring "a state review process for potential groundwater extraction projects in the California desert." Some alterations to the bill are expected to prevent onerous state review requirements of district water agencies. We will update you as this legislation progresses.MBCA member & Basin resident Peter Brooks made a presentation to the Senate Committee Natural Resources and Water Committee on July 11th. Brooks highlighted serious flaws in the Cadiz project from the industry perspective in an effort to protect the desert and its residents.Peter Brook’s op-ed in the Los Angeles Times about the Cadiz water project, “The ludicrous plan to pump Mojave Water to L.A.” provides overview and update about why MBCA and many conservation groups and desert residents oppose the Cadiz project. You may recall that Peter was a featured speaker at two of MBCA's Desert-Wise Lectures. We are privileged to have Peter’s expertise working with us in defense of desert!Support for the Desert National Monuments – MDLT Desert DefendersThe Mojave Desert Land Trust’s Desert Defender campaign: Protect our Desert National Monuments collected names and messages to demonstrate public support for our National Monuments.As the comment period closed, MDLT submitted 1,259 public comments to the Department of the Interior! Thanks to all of you who participated as Desert Defenders!Good-by Seth Shteir & Welcome Chris ClarkeMany of you knew Seth Shteir as California Desert Program Manager for the Joshua Tree National Park Conservation Association from August 2015 through March 2017. Seth led many initiatives in the Basin in protection of the JTNP. He also served as a Director on the Board of the MBCA where he provided invaluable perspective on national and regional conservation issues. While we’re sad to lose Seth – a good friend and powerful desert advocate - we wish him all the best in his new position as Conservation Manager for Seattle Audubon.I’m pleased to announce that Chris Clarke has accepted the California Desert Program Manager’s position at NPCA. After starting the job on July 10th, Chris immediately flew to Sacramento to begin work on the campaign to oppose the Cadiz water project where NPCA staff met with the State Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee in support of AB 1000. Chris is a seasoned conservation professional and journalist – a founder of Solar Done Right, and until joining NPCA was KCET Link Environment Editor where he contributed powerful and insightful articles in defense of the Mojave desert. MBCA Directors look forward to working closely with Chris in the opposition to Cadiz project and the protection of the desert in and around the national parks and preserves.MBCA’s conservation partnerships, including MDLT, NPCA and Alliance for Desert Preservation work to create a coordinated force to be reckoned with. Thanks to you for your individual support and keeping us strong!Sincerely,Sarah Kennington, MBCA PresidentYour 2017 MBCA BoardDavid Fick, Vice President Steve Bardwell, TreasurerMarina West, Recording Secretary Pat Flanagan, DirectorMeg Foley, Director Ruth Rieman, DirectorClaudia Sall, Director for Events Laraine Turk, DirectorMBCA advocates for a healthy desert environmentthat nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealthand economic well-being.
- Ord Mountain Solar Project
- Renewable Energy and Conservation Element (RECE) of the General plan
- Air quality monitoring
- Off Highway Vehicle Recreation Act (OHVRA) - SB 249
- Desert Water – Cadiz project & AB 1000
- Desert National Monuments – MDLT Desert Defenders
- NPCA Desert Manager – good-bye Seth Shteir & welcome Chris Clarke
The Board of Directors has scheduled a working retreat in July and will not hold regular Board meetings in July or August. The next regular Board meeting will be Thursday, September 14, at 5 p.m. at the Yucca Valley Community Center. A reminder will be posted in early September.
The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors Public Hearing for the Renewable Energy and Conservation Element (REC Element) has been scheduled for Tuesday, August 8, 2017, 10:00 am, in the Covington Chambers, First Floor, County Government Center. Remote video conferencing will also be available at the Bob Burke Joshua Tree Government Center in Joshua Tree and at the Jerry Lewis High Desert Government Center in Hesperia.
The most recent draft version of the REC Element from April 2017 is available at this link on the County website. Written comments on this Draft should be submitted by Tuesday, July 25, 2017 to be included in the Board of Supervisors Agenda Item. Comments received after this date may be submitted to the Clerk of the Board at the Public Hearing.Send comments and/or questions to Linda.Mawby@LUS.sbcounty.gov.
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