Ignorance, arrogance, greed and entitlement….same ol’ same ol’

Hall Creek/ Glendale area of the Mad River

What’s up with our elected officials and appointed boards?
If it involves Cannabis Production it must be a great opportunity to cash in and we can tax the hell of it so let’s let them do whatever and use whatever polluted industrial site they want. Win-Win right? That seems to be the mentality of the regulators.
Then you have the greedy proponents who just want to get started printing money. We don’t care what was there before besides don’t you know who we are?
Actually, no we don’t, and it doesn’t matter. Pollution is pollution we don’t want it in our water whether it’s from Mercer Fraser or some hipster growers.

At the September 5 Planning Commission meeting, the County Planning Commission approved yet another permit for a development on the site of a former lumber mill without adequate soil sampling – this one is in Glendale, near Hall Creek and the Mad River – just upstream from the drinking water supply for 88,000 people. The Humboldt Bay Municipal Watershed joined Humboldt Baykeeper in calling for dioxin testing, but the majority of Commissioners waved those concerns away.

Daniel Mintz covered this for KMUD news listen here:  https://soundcloud.com/kmudnews/lack-of-dioxin-testing-at-mill-site-triggers-alarm

TerraGen’s Wind Project

An important essay from Ken Miller – Opposing TerraGen’s Wind Project

CLIMATE EMERGENCY

“We all want to stop climate change and make things better. Of course, wind power initially seems like a good idea. But jumping on the first out-of-area project exploits our good will and good intentions, and leaves us with lots of damage, widespread GHG emissions, and some high priced electricity. We have better options.”

The best thing about this proposal is that it can stimulate enlightened debate, which is what this show is doing now.

There’s no argument that we are in a climate emergency, or that we need to act urgently, the disagreement is about reducing our carbon footprint with minimal environmental impacts, and maximal resilience, and this mega-industrial project does none of that.

First of all, no matter how much electricity this thing generates, it is just wrong to put this factory in forested watersheds, native grasslands, and ridges sacred to local Native Americans, essentially forever.

We taxpayers are funding this project with 10 years of tax credits and “accelerated depreciation.” They have to start construction this Fall to get those tax benefits, so we taxpayers are also funding a rush job, and a con job.

We have time to exercise informed judgment so that

we avoid trading one bad situation for another that leaves us with the impacts, forever. There have only been two public scoping sessions last August in Eureka and Scotia, and few know about this.

Is there a better way to reduce our carbon footprint than this? Of course, conservation and rooftop solar will not destroy our ecosystems, add no new transmission lines, can be implemented quickly, and will provide resilience, an appetite for electric vehicles, and improved property values, all with minimal maintenance, plus homegrown jobs all over the county.

.This project, however, promises only 15 permanent jobs, likely by imported workers, and requires continuous maintenance because these windmills are very complex machines that fail dangerously and often, especially in untested terrain like ours.

This project defiles redwood and Doug fir biomes that are supposedly managed to protect and regenerate ecosystem values.

With an industrial complex of this magnitude, that’s impossible because of the industrial infrastructure:

INDUSTRIAL

Without including the mining, manufacturing, and delivery of these huge complex machines, the scale is enormous for our area:

  • Up to 60-600 ft vibrating blenders with 250 foot blades rotating at 200mph at their tips,
  • lubricated with 400 gal of oil,
  • on bases of concrete 65 ft in diameter 10 feet into the ground, and those will never come out all the way
  • on squares of scraped ground 350 ft,
  • 6 250-400 ft meteorological towers
  • 17 miles of new permanent roads some 200 feet wide
  • up the impaired Jordan Creek watershed
  • over 25 miles of 100 ft wide, 90-acre clearcut corridors thru forestland to Bridgeville across the Eel River
  • kept clear with herbicides to support transmission lines
  • constant human activity for 30 years, or more,

That’s operational, the construction activities include:

  • using 15000 gal of water a day,
  • 10000 truck trips, some weighing 110 tons and 90 feet long,
  • 2 temporary bypasses on 101 at Hookton and 12 St Fortuna
  • over 11000 yards of concrete from 1-2 new dirty cement batch plants fueled by generators,
  • 3 million cu ft of soil displaced, soil that now stores C better than trees in wildfire CA
  • erosion into Eel R tributaries
  • Over 25 acres of temporary and permanent staging and Operations facilities
  • 900 acres of logging
  • Plus re-doing all the tie-ins at Bridgeville,
  • And battery banks in Bridgeville (4.4, T4-2)
  • all fueled, from mining to twirling, with fossil fuel energy.

Green House Gases (GHG)

This is neither green, nor renewable. TerraGen’s GHG emissions tally is misleading.

The immediate GHG emissions during the 18 months of construction have instant and prolonged impacts, but TG amortizes them over 25 years, so they look good compared to fossil generating plants…on paper.

(It’s called front-loading. Maxxam did that with their Sustain Yield Program, cut everything now based on mythical growth and yield numbers, but really based on producing pecker-poles and fiber, not forests.)

And they dismiss the emissions associated with all the logging.

Windmill complexes require daily constant monitoring and maintenance, lots of human activity and truck traffic every day, forever: parts fail, rotors catch fire, transformers fail, structures fail, lubrication, Transmission lines require herbicides and maintenance to prevent fires. GHGs from these are hard to discern from this DEIR.

135MW is a lot of power but constitutes only ½ of 1% of California’s renewable portfolio.

Impacts and GHG emissions from decommissioning this Project are not analyzed, and not included in the accounting.

(To date, no wind factory has been decommissioned, dismantled, and the footprint restored.  There are acres of abandoned wind farms throughout California.)

Scotia, Fortuna, Rio Dell, the Eel R valley, and over to the coast will all live with windmill blight for decades.

RUBE GOLDBERG*

* A Rube Goldberg machine is a machine intentionally designed to perform a simple task in an indirect and overcomplicated fashion.

We suffer all the impacts from building this complex at this fragile site in order to send power to the grid so that Marin County and others, like Humboldt, can buy that power back, plus pay increased transmission costs, in order to check off a box in our Counties’ renewable agenda. This is a classic Rube Goldberg.

Marin County, which will buy this electricity, has no windmills because they cherish their landscape, especially their ridges.

(CEQA allows highly paid responders to pick each impact as if there is no whole to the landscape and fragment a project to insignificance on paper, like a magic trick.)

Environmental Impacts

Two of the consequences of this rush job are that Wildlife surveys are shortened from the required 2 years to one year, and public awareness and discussion have been limited even more.

This project kills some of the iconic species that make this place wild, including Marbled Murrelets, Eagles, raptors salmonids, and an array of other birds, fish, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, insects and plants. (3-5b)

Some will say that millions will die anyway from climate change, and we have no time for solar. Nuclear proponents make this same argument. This project’s immediate and ongoing GHG emissions not only worsen heating, but guarantee the collapse of this local ecosystem.

One of the subtle, unevaluated, but far-reaching ways giant windmill complexes disturb the environment and affects all living creatures is by extracting energy from the wind.

This alters the downwind dynamics over a wide area that affects wind patterns, humidity, and temperature, affecting all life.

The Marbled Murrelet (MaMu)

The Marbled Murrelet section of the DEIR provides a window into TG’s tobacco science:

The marbled murrelet is a magically elusive endangered seabird who relies on both our coastal ocean waters and OG conifer nesting habitat.

There’s only 15% of their original nesting habitat left, and since 1993, there’s been a 20% decline mostly due to logging on private lands. (PSG)

90% of their original population is gone, with a 30% decline from 2000-2010, which continues at 4-7% annually.

California’s populations were federally listed as endangered in 1991, and Oregon just up-listed their populations to endangered recently.

At this rate, Murrelets are heading toward extinction within 30-50 years.

We taxpayers paid over a half billion 1999 $$ to protect their OG habitat with the old PL HCP.

Yet according to TG’s DEIR, this project will affect over 2200 acres of murrelet activity, and that’s just the actual physical buffers around this complex.

And the complex is within a quarter mile of murrelet habitat, right in murrelet airspace, violating the one-mile PSG buffer.

Since there are no operational windmills within the murrelet’s range, anywhere, TG plays a modeling game with our at-risk population.

Based on a tiny sample of 136 birds detected over 5 months of radar surveys, Stantec Corp concludes, with mathematical precision, that only 10.43- 20.86  murrelets will die over 30 years.

Changing a collision input by just .01 into their computer model accounts for the doubling of the calculated mortality rate.

A model so sensitive to tiny changes in inputs is unreliable when modeling the many tiny variables associated with murrelets, climate change and windmills.

With poor breeding success rates and degraded ocean conditions and OG habitat, there are absolutely no acceptable murrelet deaths.

There are, of course, no real mitigations, either, so TG relies on the Parks to thin over 20,000 acres in their forests to recruit OG murrelet nesting habitat, (meaning 100-250 acres of continuous OG), which would take centuries, and emit tons of GHGs in the process, besides eliminating those trees’ carbon storage capacity.

In other words, their mitigations rely on more logging, in addition to the 900 acres that will be logged for the project, also without GHG accounting (Appx B).

The mitigations and alternatives in this DEIR are of the Titanic variety, moving turbines around on the ridges, or modifying utility poles somewhere else to make up for killing local eagles.

THE RIDGES

I encourage everyone to read Adam Canter’s eloquent description of Bear River and Monument Ridges (Tsakiyuwit), on LoCo, May 16. You will think quite differently about whether this project fits this landscape.

At 3100 feet overlooking the Eel R valley, these ridges, are the traditional cultural property of local Tribes, irrespective of current legal ownership.

One ridge over is Rainbow Ridge, where there is the most pristine old growth Doug fir forests and bio-diverse ecosystems left on the planet.

These native grasslands are part of the Mendocino IBA habitat, where TG will cut 36 acres of the “eel grass of the hills”

WIND PR

My LA friend said that anyone supporting a wind complex should visit one. I don’t call it a farm, because the only resemblance to a farm is to a CAFO feedlot (Concentrated animal feeding operation). These are massive, all-disturbing, unfriendly no-critter industrial zones.

Maybe windmill complexes are OK where they already are, especially where communities want them, but not in this location. We shall see about offshore wind energy soon enough.

WHO GAINS?

The real winners here are neither we, nor the planet.

The only thing renewable and green is the money game.

The Russ Ranch and HRC get 30-year, renewable leases, without doing anything, and TerraGen, owned by Energy Capital Partners (ECP), a $20B venture capital consortium, gets 10-year tax credits and a quick write-off of expenses no matter how these windmills perform; plus of course selling the power back to us with increased transmission costs.

We are supposed to trust ECP & Stantec Corp., who is doing wildlife surveys here. They are both heavily into international oil and gas, coal mining, fracking, shale and tar sands oil, pipelines everywhere, transmission lines, and the giant equipment used to haul turbine components.

The County gets a measly $2m a year, which can sound like a lot compared to other taxpayers only because TPZ lands pay so little in taxes.

 

SOLAR

So why would we exchange so much for so little gain? Is this the sacrifice we must make in order to “do our part?

Of course not.

Conservation is cheap, readily available and easy.

Distributed energy production, solar panels on every roof and electric vehicles are the ticket to resiliency, renewables, jobs, and a steady revenue stream from money-generating roofs when the cost of the panels is recovered.

Public roofs would feed that money right into our treasury, replacing those that would come from this project.

Solar panels have impacts, but the scale is orders of magnitudes less, the impacts are far more manageable, there is negligible maintenance, the roofs and wires are already in place, and they provide us with way more benefits and jobs without the destruction.

This project is a con job that benefits mainly TerraGen and its partners.

The overall environmental costs and the ecosystem impacts make this a terrible choice for our county and for our planet.

(of manufacturing, delivering, constructing, installing, operating, maintaining, and decommissioning this huge industrial complex,)

DEMOCRACY

We can’t rely on CEQA, or the County at this time to protect us and steer us onto a smarter course. The agencies are well aware of this environmental disaster, but they need our support in their efforts to protect our precious ecosystems. Otherwise all they hear is from TG, and the County

This momentous decision, with widespread impacts of public concern, is in the hands of an unelected Planning Commission just because it’s on private lands, depriving us of our democracy.

There is no panacea, just better choices.

Please contact the Planning Commissioners,

July 11 Planning Commission workshoppe

July 25 Planning Commission hearing

contact California Department of Fish Wildlife, US Fish &Wildlife Service, NOAA.

Encourage organized labor, the media, local environmental groups like Audubon, FoER, EPIC, NEC, ERRP, CATS,

Speak up, this is not a done deal

Citizens Scotia meeting June 3 630 Winema Theater

June 5 comments to DEIR

Contact your Planning Commissioner: https://humboldtgov.org/194/Planning-Commission

Attend the meetings with the planning commission and let your Supervisor know that this project is unacceptable, another rip off our public trust values.  Demand the Supervisors start the solar program where everyone can benefit and no harm comes to our precious hills and valleys, streams and rivers.

QUOTES

“To protect wild habitats and prevent the worst cataclysm of global heating, we must move to zero-carbon energy immediately – but we must do it in ways that minimize habitat destruction. That requires that energy is generated in our towns and cities, close to where we use it.” Dr. Doug Karpa, PhD, JD, Marin energy analyst

One energy analyst sums it up:

…wind farms are now recognized as mostly having a negative effect on local resilience other than financially benefiting a very small group of people.

The main benefit local inhabitants get is merely the very dubious feel good privilege of looking at the wind turbines.” Roger

 

Planning Commission kisses Mercer Fraser’s ass, yet again

Mercer Fraser Asphalt Plant right above Big Lagoon from county staff report

Taking a page right out of the Republican Senate’s playbook, of making decisions without all the facts, The Humboldt County Planning Commission, as usual, gave Mercer Fraser Company whatever they want.

Our planning commission is a prime example of crony capitalism at its worst. Only Noah Levy ever seems to do any homework before coming to these meetings the others just vote for their developer friends no matter what.

We sure hope Humboldt Baykeeper appeals this to the Supervisors and especially to the California Coastal Commission.

This from Eliane Weinreb on the NCJ Blog:

https://www.northcoastjournal.com/NewsBlog/archives/2018/09/22/planning-commission-approves-mercer-fraser-asphalt-plant-near-big-lagoon

The Humboldt County Planning Commission has approved plans for the continued operation of an asphalt plant less than a half-mile from iconic Big Lagoon despite objections that all the relevant data about the plant has not yet been received and over requests to postpone the decision until next month.

The plant has been operating for several months on an expired permit.

With commissioners Alan Bongio and Brian Mitchell absent, and after a motion to postpone the vote failed, the permit passed with a 4-1 vote, with Noah Levy dissenting.

The plant, operated by Mercer Fraser Co. on land owned by Green Diamond, was initially permitted in March of 2017, with the one-year permit expiring March 18. Mercer Fraser, which is a major contractor for Caltrans, manufactures asphalt used to construct and repair the state’s highways, especially the work which was done throughout the summer on U.S. Highway 101 north of Big Lagoon..

While most people are happy to see roads repaired, not everybody was happy with the location of this particular plant, which is about a half-mile from the waterway.

Few people realized that the plant had, in fact, been operating for more than a year. The initial permit quietly passed through on the commission’s consent calendar in March of 2017. An old lumber mill once operated on the site, which has also apparently been used for other industrial purposes, although the staff report is vague as to just what these were.

Humboldt Baykeeper Director Jennifer Kalt thought it would be prudent to know just what chemicals might be contaminating the site, and in mid-August, asked the Planning Department for further information. She followed her initial queries with a California Public Records Act request and was promised her information by Sept. 24, four days after the commission was scheduled to act on the application. She asked the commission to postpone the hearing until after the requested information has been received.

Kalt also noted that the project area is home to several endangered species including coho and Chinook salmon, and cutthroat trout. She was concerned about possible flood risks and what hazardous materials may exist on the site.

Fifth District Supervisor-elect Steve Madrone spoke from the audience and expressed his concerns about the location of the project within a flood plain. He urged the commission to find a better location — and to postpone the hearing until all the relevant information was available.

With the exception of Levy, the commission did not seem too concerned about these issues. They were more impressed with the statistics provided by Mercer Fraser spokesman Mark Harrison

Levy was concerned about the adequacy of the evacuation plan, noting that if a tsunami-related flood occurred, the company would only have a few minutes’ warning, certainly not enough time to move all that equipment. He initially expressed disbelief with the staff report’s statement that the “project site is not located in a tsunami inundation area,” a statement that the staff planner attributed to the California Department of Conservation.

“What she [Kalt] is asking for is stuff that I would like to know as well: what we know about the contamination of the site,” he said. “This project is in a site where we know the Regional Water Quality Board has some documentation of the contamination. I would like to hear from the Department of Fish and Wildlife about an unexpected risk from a catastrophic event if it were to befall the biological resources just downstream.

“And what about State Parks,” he continued. “Due to the confluence of resources right around here and the risks that are being addressed in some way in the staff report, I think that we should hear from them. Those are the things that make me feel that I don’t have all the information I need to make the decision that this is the best location.”

Was there another possible location for the plant, asked Planning Commissioner Ben Shepherd, considering that it required a site that was already zoned for heavy industry. The county planner said there were not many sites with the necessary zoning and none in the immediate area.

Somebody noted that there were representatives from the Department Fish and Wildlife and the State Parks Department in the audience, but Morris replied that they had not offered to speak during the public comment period and had not officially responded to the county’s project notice.

“We have two options before us,” said Shepherd. “We can postpone the project to provide more information, or we can choose to vote it up or down. I’m leaning toward postponement because we had a number of people who expressed, ‘not enough information.’ … I want the public to be more comfortable with this and not go through a series of appeals.”

Shepherd moved to continue to the project to the commission’s Oct. 18 meeting. Levy seconded the move. Shepherd then added that he supported the project, that it would save trucks from having to traverse the streets of Eureka, and that most mills were already close to Redwood National Park and herds of elk.

The commissioners voted down the postponement 3-2, with Morris, Newman and Edmonds dissenting.

Edmonds then moved to approve the project and it passed with Levy as the sole dissenter.

The project approval can be appealed to the California Coastal Commission and to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors.

Planning Commission Dictator Ulansey is pissed; look out staff!

Bully boy cartoon

The January 7th meeting of the Humboldt Planning Commission proceeded routinely, up until the very end that is. Then the Planning Commission Chairman Morris brought up an item which was not on the agenda. That item was the staff report of the Planning Commission that had been delivered to the Supervisors on the proposed Humboldt County Commercial Medical Marijuana Ordinance at the last BOS meeting. At least three of the members expressed their “outrage”(Morris) over the “deliberate bias” (Ulansey) and “their agenda”(Bongio). Commission Chair Morris went even further and fumed that the report was “totally unacceptable”. Chair Morris tried several times to get a vote of “no trust” and “no confidence” in the planning staff to move forward.

What was stunning about this was the complete rewriting of history or amnesia sweeping over the Commission. We followed these hearings closely and one way or the other we watched on TV or were in attendance at all 10 meetings. What we can tell you is the first two meetings actually went fairly well with little or no grand standing. Meeting number three is where Ulansey took off the gloves and went after staff. He tried to humiliate them and bully them in front of the public. In our view was eventually successful in intimidating staff and legal counsel. What we saw was that staff tried to keep the Planning Commission from going completely off the rails, but that’s exactly where Commissioners Bongio, Morris and Ulansey wanted to go. After the withering diatribes of Ulansey one can hardly blame these staff members from becoming less vocal.

Bully Boy

Bongio, Morris and Ulansey seem to us, to represent Weed INC. on the planning commission. While Morris and Ulansey are reportedly not growers themselves they are directly reaping the financial benefit of the green rush through their investments. These guys want to create a second even bigger “Green Rush” so that they and their buddies can cash in. Well, we should say cash in EVEN MORE than they already have!

The Green Ru$h rolls on; now it’s up to your county Supervisors

Ill-informed and alarming quote of the week:

Board chairwoman and 2nd District Supervisor Estelle Fennell said that the commission had done a “tremendous job to at least wrangle this down into a good product.    

 

 

Local Environmental Organizations have sent out alerts:

GREEN RU$H Action Alert: Board of Supervisors Hearing this Tuesday!

baykeeper

NEC logo

On Tuesday, Dec. 15 at 1:30 pm, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors will hold its first hearing on a new ordinance to regulate commercial medical MJ cultivation. The County Planning Commission’s recommendations adopted on Dec. 3 set very few limits, and NEC and our allies are calling on the Board of Supervisors to ensure that the ordinance protects the environment and does not result in further expansion of the Green Rush.

We urge you to come to the hearing this Tuesday at 1:30 and contact the Board of Supervisors to call for the following:

 Place a Cap on Total Number of Permits: With approximately 3,300 parcels – more than 10% of the parcels in the County – already having large marijuana grows visible from Google Earth, the top priority must be reining in the environmental impacts of existing grows without allowing massive expansion. We suggest a cap of 2,500 permits in the first three years, followed by a review and consideration of a full EIR to assess carrying capacity of watersheds.

Decrease the Grow Sizes Allowed Without Special or Conditional Use Permits:

The draft ordinance recommended on Dec. 3 would allow much larger grows than even proposed by California Cannabis Voice Humboldt (CCVH), the industry advocates who began the ordinance process last year.

Limit Generator-Dependent Cultivation:

Noise and light from generators in the hills impacts wildlife and quality of life in rural areas. Allowing unlimited indoor and “mixed light” greenhouse grows to run generators day and night to power lights and fans is unacceptable.

Prohibit pesticide use: The County should explicitly prohibit pesticides (including rodenticides, fungicides, insecticides, and herbicides) use on and around cannabis cultivation operations. This can be achieved by requiring that medical marijuana be grown consistent with organic standards, which will protect the environment as well as marijuana workers and consumers.

No New Cultivation on TPZ lands: The County should stop the further proliferation of marijuana cultivation on TPZ (Timber Production Zone) land by prohibiting new operations while existing cultivation sites are cleaned up and brought into compliance. The timber industry has done tremendous damage to our forests and watersheds for decades; clearing hillsides and building more roads will only exacerbate these problems.

Address Carrying Capacity of Watersheds:
The County’s draft ordinance does nothing to address the cumulative impacts of cultivation activities within a watershed. As a whole, existing operations are resulting in unacceptable impacts to waterways, fish and wildlife, and downstream communities. Allowing an unlimited number of permits per watershed is unacceptable.

Ensure Adequate Funding: Meaningful regulation of commercial marijuana cultivation is dependent on adequate funding for inspection and enforcement. We urge the County to pursue a marijuana tax to be placed on the June 2016 ballot for voter approval.

 

Impacts from illegal water diversion, irresponsible grading, and clearing of forests for grow sites have expanded exponentially in recent years. Salmon streams are particularly hard hit from the combined impacts of drought, decades of harmful logging practices, and unchecked marijuana operations. It is long past time to bring the marijuana industry into compliance with state and local environmental regulations.

Jennifer Kalt, Humboldt Baykeeper

Larry Glass, Northcoast Environmental Center

 

Submit comments to Kathy Hayes, Clerk of the Board, at khayes@co.humboldt.ca.us to get your comments into the public record. You can also contact the Board of Supervisors directly:

Rex Bohn, District 1:  476-2391
rbohn@co.humboldt.ca.us

Estelle Fennell, District 2: 476-2392
efennell@co.humboldt.ca.us

Mark Lovelace, District 3: 476-2393
mlovelace@co.humboldt.ca.us

Virginia Bass, District 4:  476-2394
vbass@co.humboldt.ca.us

Ryan Sundberg, District 5: 476-2395
rsundberg@co.humboldt.ca.us

 

For more info:

Commercial Marijuana Cultivation Rules Set Few Limits Jennifer Kalt, EcoNews 12/2/15

Draft pot ordinance drawing mixed views Will Houston, Times Standard 12/12/15

STATE OF THE WEED: Can You Guess Where Most of the Weed in Humboldt County is Grown? Hank Sims, Lost Coast Outpost 12/10/15

STATE OF THE WEED: How Many Grows Are There in Humboldt County?

Hank Sims, Lost Coast Outpost 12/10/15

Protecting Watersheds Needs to be First Priority in Pot Ordinance Dan Ehresman, EcoNews 8/1/15