Some residents of Newberry Springs will probably be dying early after the
planned utility-scale renewable energy facilities in Daggett and Newberry Springs
No one wants to speak about the strong likelihood of early deaths that
will follow in the extended aftermath of the construction of the two proposed solar
facilities west and upwind from Newberry Springs.
Obviously, no one will suddenly die, but everyone living in
the Silver Valley will be impacted to some degree. The problem lies with the
much higher level of impurities in the air that will be created by the two projects.
For the valley residents, it will be like breathing asbestos over time, which insidiously will
lead some to premature death.
One of the faster killers is Coccidioidomycosis, a dimorphic
fungi. It is plentiful around us in the desert. The problem arises
when the microscopic fungal spores get stirred-up and become airborne.
The spores can get inhaled into the lungs and can lead to death. More
commonly it is known as Valley Fever.
The more land that is bladed for development and
disturbed, the more the fungal spores have an opportunity to become airborne
whenever the wind blows.
In very rare occasions (1%) the infection can spread from the
lungs to other parts of the body, such as the central nervous system (brain and
spinal cord), skin, or bones and joints.
Another very serious problem is very fine crystalline silica dust.
The desert is covered with it. This isn't the sand that you see, it's
the microscopic stuff that easily becomes airborne and you inhale it
without knowing it. The effect is again something like asbestos, accumulative.
The more of it you breathe, the quicker your lungs get coated and fail.
It leads to breathing difficulties, symptoms of emphysema and lung cancer (see the 2-minute
embedded in the Daggett news blog).
Crystalline silica and Coccidioidomycosis, after
being disturbed by development, can both become airborne in high
winds and be carried to high altitudes and transported to other
states. However, the Silver Valley is the No. 1 ground zero
where the winds will be able to initially spread the deadly
Other man-made toxic materials that are known to have
been deposited or spilled on portions of the Daggett proposed solar
site can also become airborne. Newberry Springs is badly
positioned being immediately downwind in the prevailing westerly winds.
Some residents have lived their lives in Newberry
Springs and don't see, nor want to recognize, the growing problem.
The fact is, if nearly 5,000-acres immediately upwind to Newberry Springs
is bladed for solar development, the exposure to these deadly elements
When it comes to protecting the innocent children of
Newberry Springs and protecting the air for the emphysema at-risk elderly,
who wouldn't want to do the right thing? This is a very serious
health matter that shouldn't become political, but it has! The
parents at the local elementary school and the fine folks at the
Family Service Center, and the church congregations should be
up-in-arms over what is happening locally!
Dirty politics are surrounding the issue. At
every level of government, from Washington, D.C., where politicians
are giving large grants to renewable energy developers (who give
them back political contributions), to local county politicians
who side with the developers against the health and safety of their
constituents, the dirty politics have trickled down to our own
Newberry Community Service District.
The members of the CSD Board are certainly not proactive and they would
apparently rather see their own neighbors become sick and die before they release 14-year
old Kiewit Pacific trust funds to protect the community by fighting the solar developments.
Why would the CSD Board do that? Why would the Board be still
holding onto funds meant to better the community 14-years ago? The answer came
the other day from across a lunch counter from a wise resident who summed it up, "The Board
is not objective nor logical."
If those in local government cannot be good community stewards, govern
straight and set their personal priorities and differences aside when the community is
under a tremendous crisis, then they are not fit to serve.
The Newberry CSD board has already caused over a month's delay
in the critical defense of Newberry Springs. Before long, Newberry will not
have the necessary time required to prepare the extensive reports that are
necessary to defend against the solar developments. That, might be
the Board members' intended tactic.
Robert Shaw appears to be the only CSD director
understanding the crisis and who supports the use of the trust funds.
Director Larry Clark supports the solar
facilities and he appears fixated on himself making money drilling
water wells for the developers. Ask him, and directors
Robert Springer, Paula Deel, and Victoria Paulsen
why their personal agendas outweigh the health and safety of Newberry
• • •
Fred Stearn, a Newberry Springs real estate broker, has been writing
a series of letters to San Bernardino County's contract planner for the Daggett and
Newberry Springs solar projects, and to the California Office of Planning and Research.
Stearn's letters have been raising many valid questions about the validity of the solar