Meandering
Thoughts

    Industrial Renewable Energy's    
    Sacrifice Of The Living Desert    
    And Its People    

  Residents' Civil Rights & Liberties are being oppressed. 


  Prepared by the
Newberry Springs Community Alliance
'For those who want to know more
about Newberry Springs.'

Compiler/Commentary: Ted Stimpfel
Last revision: September 6, 2022
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Location: East of Barstow, California.
Project: Daggett Solar Power Facility
Developer: Clearway Energy, Inc.
*

* One-half of Clearway has been flipped to TotalEnergies Group (France).
Contractor: Blattner Energy

  The Mojave Valley and the placement of the  
  Daggett Solar Power Facility in relation to homes.
 


Click for enlargement.
The Mojave Valley lies between Interstates 15 & 40.
The prevailing wind is from the southwest.
High winds are normally from the west.

  The Mojave Valley and the placement of the  
  Daggett Solar Power Project on soils  
  with potential for wind-blown dust.
 


Click above for an enlargement.

    The above-mapped data is supported by the County of San Bernardino's Countywide Plan map: HazardsHZ‐11 Wind Erosion Hazards (Hazard map).  The County has known of the historical hazards of the blowing dust and the dangers of disturbing the native soil in the Mojave Valley.

  Dirty Renewable Energy  

     Despite promises by Clearway Energy and assurances from Blattner Energy that such would not happen, hazardous silica dust rises (from the left side of the photograph) to hundreds of feet from the solar field being prepared by Blattner Energy for Clearway Energy/Total Energies' Daggett Solar Power Facility.  Neighboring unmowed land was not emitting visible dust.  CHP road closure.

  Sand Transport Paths  

    The eolian dust area mapped above is within a Sand Transport Path (STP).  STPs have existed for thousands of years in the Mojave Valley, and elsewhere in the Mojave Desert, and have been well known and studied (link 2.7 MB) for decades.

    STPs are areas that have very high winds.  With the eolian soils, the high winds create dust storms.  Large-scale destruction of the desert's biological soil crusts for solar power construction and the destruction of the native root systems that help to knit the soil together greatly amplifies the available eolian sand and dust subject to wind capture.

    The northwestern portion of Newberry Springs has a higher density of residents as this area has previously been outside the path of sand blows and sand rivers.  It was a selected place for the elderly and others predisposed to pulmonary ailment triggers.  The clean desert air that they physically need has now been taken from them by the sand and dust blowing from the Clearway Energy project.

    Industrial solar developments that disturb the desert surface should never be placed in an STP.  The breaking of the topsoil crust greatly increases the amount of the carcinogenic crystalline silica dust that winds can carry over communities.  This then subjects the residents to Silicosis, lung cancer, chronic obstructive lung disease, and kidney diseases.  Microscopic silica can even get into the bloodstream.


Click for the source.

    California Attorney General Rob Bonta, in July 2022, called upon the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish regulations to protect against asbestos, and bans against specific forms of asbestos, such as chrysotile asbestos. The AG's press release states:

    "Asbestos ‐ a carcinogen that kills more than 12,000 people in the U.S. per year ‐ is linked to diseases that are life-threatening, or cause substantial pain and suffering, including mesothelioma, fibrosis, lung cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, as well as other lung disorders and diseases.  There is no safe level of exposure to this highly toxic material."

    The crystalline silica dust blowing from the Daggett Solar Power Facility and engulfing the community of Newberry Springs does very similar damage to the human body as asbestos.


Losing one's forever home.

"Harm done to any one person
is a crime against all."

  Ignoring Environmental Justice  

    The County of San Bernardino, the Mojave Desert AQMD, and Clearway Energy were all made exceptionally aware during the Daggett Solar Power Facility's permit process that the project would cause a disproportionate burden of toxic airborne silica dust and irreparable harm to the downwind residents.

    It was recognized during the early planning stages that the solar project would create massive damage to the desert's soil crust and that the environmental damage would cause unacceptable injuries to the community of Newberry Springs.

    For the permit's approval, without prior testing, the solar proponents placed their reliance on soil binders to remedy fugitive dust migration.  As argued by the opponents, soil binders do not work on sand in dry, high wind areas.

    Soil binders have proven to be ineffective at places like Owens Lake, and guess what?  Soil binders haven't worked well for Clearway Energy in a Sand Transport Path either.

    So what has been done?  In spreading the binder, Clearway's contractor, Blattner Energy, has been reportedly tripling the chemical binder's strength to water ratio.  And guess again, the binder still isn't keeping fugitive dust from going airborne.

    However, residents many miles downwind from the construction site are now reporting sticky dust when it gets wet.  Gluey dust is sticking to the bottom of shoes.  Would this indicate that they might be inhaling the chemical binder?

    Despite their prior knowledge of the negative health impacts, Clearway Energy, the County of San Bernardino, and the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District (MDAQMD) all chose to ignore the highly predictable environmental damages.

    They thumbed their noses at state Attorney General Rob Bonta's Environmental Justice initiative that is meant to ensure compliance with the state's Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and land use planning laws.

    A relevant part of CEQA law is California Gov. Code, § 65040.12, subd. (e) that reads:

    "For the purposes of this section, Environmental Justice means the fair treatment of people of all races, cultures, and incomes with respect to the development, adoption, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies."

    This legal citation on Environmental Justice was even cited by myself before the County of San Bernardino's Land Use Services Department, the Planning Commissioners, and the Supervisors during the permitting process.

    County Land Use Services, the Lead Agency behind the Environmental Impact Report, has claimed in responses to the public's written input that CEQA only requires an analysis of the physical impacts on the environment; and that CEQA does not consider the social and economic impacts.

  "CEQA requires an analysis of physical impacts to the environment; it does not require analysis of social and economic impacts."    (Page 270 of the Final EIR.)

    While it is true that Environmental Justice is not mentioned in CEQA, social and economic effects do weigh in on CEQA's implementing guidelines of whether physical change, such as increased physical dust, has a substantial health or economic burden.  Therefore, the degree of social and economic impacts from physical change are very much a part of CEQA that the County by law can not ignore.  (But it did anyway!)

    During the hearing's public comments, I emphasized that the County's avoidance of Environmental Justice was improper, that, "This is dead wrong!  The state's Attorney General opined differently on May 8, 2012, declaring that social and economic impacts must be considered in CEQA studies."  And that, "Land Use Services doesn't want to touch Social Justice violations because this project is riddled with them."

    Fredrick Stearn, a Newberry Springs real estate broker, submitted numerous letters during the Daggett Solar Power's CEQA process where he has identified inconsistencies of the project with the county's Development Code and the state's environmental regulations.  After the Planning Commission approved the project, he also submitted an open 14-page letter (8.3 MB PDF) to numerous government officials and the media outlining the County of San Bernardino's Environmental Justice racism.

    The County has been well informed of its responsibilities to Environmental Justice which it has egregiously ignored.

    The federal Environmental Protection Agency under the Biden Administration is also stepping up its recognition of Environmental Justice under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

  CEQA Study Was Flawed  
  Discriminative planning by County.  

    The CEQA study was deeply flawed as there was no prior baseline wind study or proper soil analysis done for the site.  The environmental review did not adequately analyze, disclose, address, and mitigate the air pollution that would be generated.

    There appeared to be a conscientious effort to avoid the gathering of any baseline data that would have provided credibility to the requirement of placing the project at an alternative site.

    Using wind data that was taken miles upwind, before the Mojave Valley and before the beginning of the STP, made the environmental wind data in the CEQA study worthless.

    The study uses figures like the wind speed was 2.5 MPH when inspectors allegedly walked the site for species.  But, the winds often gust in the 40 to 50-plus MPH range.  Concentrated amounts of microscopic dust start to go airborne at roughly 15 MPH.

    Many dozens of letters questioning the County's objectivity and procedures in following the guideline requirements as the Lead Agency have gone either unanswered or inadequately answered, such as my letter submitted after the Scoping Hearing.

    The CEQA study for the project also failed to account for the full contribution of the desert's carbon sequestration, and how disturbance of the soil significantly releases carbon and factors into negating the project's carbon saving benefit.


Illustration from The Desert Underground by Robin Kobaly.

    The CEQA report further failed to acknowledge the Creosote Clonal Rings (4.4MB) contained on the site that were pointed out to the County.  Some of which were 20 or more feet in diameter and estimated to be over 4,000 years old.  Nearly as old as California's historic Methuselah tree, the oldest tree in the world.  (As of this writing, the rings have been destroyed.)

    The CEQA study also did not properly addressed a number of protected native wildlife species that utilize the Clearway site for their habitat and travel corridor.

    Some species require a license to collect and have a limit, like a maximum take limit of 2 per species.  Clearway Energy's contractor, Blattner Energy, may be unlawfully crushing thousands without authorization as they prepare the 5.5 square mile site.  This lack of CEQA study data on regulated species could be to dodge the necessity of considering another location.


Violations of species protection laws.

    Clearway's superficial CEQA wildlife study fails to specifically name and address a number of the protected species listed in the attached Native Reptile Captive Propagation Laws and Regulations list that are known to be established in the area of the Daggett Solar Power Facility site.

Additional Background
Restricted Species Laws and Regulations
Native Reptiles and Amphibians


Missing species in the CEQA study.

    Many of these CEQA flaws were presented during the permit process.  Not that the Newberry Springs' inhabitants' losses in property value, scenic views, rural lifestyle, and health mattered as the County of San Bernardino's Planning Commissioners and the Board of Supervisors completely ignored the Newberry Springs residents' revelation of the CEQA violations.

    The County, as the lead CEQA agency, acted as if it was on a mission to approve the CEQA study and the project regardless of the missing science and the legal barriers.

    In its zeal to approve the Clearway Energy project, the County of San Bernardino ignored a number of preventive provisions that are written into its General Plan.  A few examples include those approved by the board on August 8, 2017, Goals CO 8.1, 10.1 - 10.6, and others.  Furthermore, the approval does not meet the criteria of the County's own Development Code Section 84.29.035 and Section 85.06.040(a)(4), nor does it meet the California Public Resources Code Section 21000-21004.  The approved Environmental Impact Report also does not address CEQA's requirements on social and economic justice.

    Despite this, the additional violations of wildlife codes, and much more, the County of San Bernardino, the Mojave Desert AQMD, and Clearway Energy joined to maliciously steamroll their oppressive and disproportionate burden of environmental and class racism upon a lower socio-economic community.

    By proceeding with the injustice of the solar project, they are now injuring the Civil Rights and the Civil Liberties of the economically disadvantaged residents of rural Newberry Springs, a state-recognized low-income Environmental Justice Focus Area.

    An entire community has become collateral damage due to systemic corporate greed and political corruption.*

*As Judicial Watch, a Washington, D.C. non‐partisan educational foundation stated five years ago,

    "We're hearing a lot these days about "draining the swamp" of Washington corruption but as every serious student of crime and punishment knows, the swamp is not one, but many.  The swamp contains multitudes.  It is Washington.  It is New York.  It is San Bernardino County."

    Today, San Bernardino County still doesn't appear to have lost the crown as a nationally recognized "King of Corruption."

  It's not only about the dust.  

    The discussion has centered upon the carcinogenic dust due to the enormous quantities of dust being emitted from the Clearway project and the visual blanketing of the downwind homes and the resulting contamination of the residents' breathable air.

    What also needs to be considered are the complaints about the unmistakable noxious odor of fertilizer inside homes.  The ground preparation being done by Blattner Energy includes some fallowed farmland.  In preparing the ground for the Clearway photovoltaic panels, the soil mowing appears to be awakening years of buried fertilizers and other farming soil additives.

    The residents are now experiencing rancid smells for the first time.  Are there airborne infectious pathogens and other contaminants associated with the odors?  What do these strange odors consist of?  Why hasn't the Mojave Desert AQMD or the County's Department of Public Health taken air samples for testing?

Important Clearway Energy Update!

Original posted: 4/21/22 • Community Alliance

    Clearway Energy claims that silica dust will be fully controlled with soil binding stabilizers.  As revealed in my previous posts, that is untruthful when dealing with a 5.5-square mile project.  It may temporarily work by over saturating the soil but the ongoing cost of maintenance is prohibitive.

    Below is a recent graph of the Mojave Valley's Purple Air monitors on a mild, breezy day.  While the overall valley was having good air quality, the air directly downwind of the mowed solar land was significantly dirtier. (42)

    What isn't being shown in the graph is the ultra-fine carcinogenic silica dust that the Purple Air consumer-grade monitors can't begin to detect.  This ultra-fine dust easily becomes airborne in slight breezes and will extend far beyond the "green" safe readings.

    In high winds, the ultra-fine silica dust can be lifted to high altitudes and travel through multiple neighboring states.  In everyday lite breezes, it insidiously mixes into the air that our lungs absorb and can lead to life-threatening diseases the of organs.

  Remedy  

    One only has to look at the experience that the City of Los Angeles' Department of Water and Power has had with Owens Lake.

    According to a Thrace Group webpage (a contractor at Owens Lake and courtesy of the above photo),

"...wind gusts over 30km/hr (18.6 mph) lifted over 50 tons per second of dust fog off the lakebed.  Sometimes reaching over 3km (9,842 ft.) high, these dust storms sent 130 times the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) limit for particulate matter into the atmosphere, scattering the dust over 400 kilometers (248 miles) away from the lake."

    2.5-billion dollars later, Owens Lake's fugitive dust has been reduced by 99.2-percent through shallow flooding (27 square miles), controlled vegetation (saltgrass - 3.5 square miles), and by using a gravel blanket over a nonwoven geotextile fabric (1.9 square miles).

    A four-inch depth of a minimum 3/8-inch screened gravel is used to suppress dust on portions of Owens Lake.  This appears to be the best viable remedy for Clearway Energy to meet the requirement of preventing fugitive dust from leaving its development site.  Other methods involving mats or bricks would be more costly.

    Further details on doing it right with gravel can be found on the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District's webpage.

    In ignoring the residents' warnings of dust that the project would create, and in agreeing to mitigate the fugitive dust, Clearway Energy has obligated itself to significant costs.

    There are the added costs in preparing the land and the restoration of the land at the project's end of life.  Clearway's corporate cost however is insignificant to the health and the property losses upon the lives of the downwind residents and their animals.

    As Clearway Energy, and its new partner TotalEnergies, are currently recklessly disturbing the desert soil, the downwind residents are now calling upon the federal and state environmental authorities to require a 4-inch gravel covering.

  Understanding the hazard of silica 
  dust to the human body.
 

  What you don't see does kill!  


Breathing quantum amounts of silica particles smaller
than 1 µm (micrometer) can cause organ failure.

    The size of airborne particulate matter (PM) for government records is typically measured in sizes of PM 10 µm or PM 2.5 µm.

   µm (micrometer aka micron) being 1/1,000,000 of a meter or roughly .00004 of an inch in size.  Invisible to sight or taste.

    The California Air Resources Board has sponsored epidemiological research conducted at UC Davis that has suggested a statistical correlation between adverse lung and heart health effects with the exposure to particulate matter smaller than PM .1 µm (1/10 µm) when breathed in with common Ozone (O3).

    No silica is safe to inhale.  The smaller that silica dust is, the easier it is to go airborne, stay suspended in the air for days, and the deeper that it can penetrate the lungs.

Suffering from Clearway's
Daggett Solar Power Project

No one has a right to inflict this upon others.

  The BIG Lie.  

    The State of California, the County of San Bernardino, and Clearway Energy have all been crusading that the Daggett Solar Power Facility is necessary for the State of California to meet its 2032 clean renewable energy power goals.

    Clearway Energy was continuously sending the message that its facility, with backup batteries, would provide a stream of clean renewable energy to California homes and industry.  Power that California would need.

    It was well known during the entire approval process of the Daggett Solar Power Facility that the major power distributors within California were not signing Power Purchase Agreements with companies like Clearway Energy.

    This was because of the excessive glut of inconsistent renewable energy within the state of California.  Despite this knowledge, the County of San Bernardino proceeded to push for the project's approval.

    According to an unconfirmed report from a low-level Clearway employee, the project has now acquired Power Purchase Agreements to sell all of its possible generated power to four power distributors.

    All four are reportedly outside the state of California!

    There are no benefits to the state.  The solar facility's property is exempt from most taxes.  The local residents' physical and mental health are being negatively impacted, local wildlife is being harmed, the desert's vast amounts of sequestrated carbon is being released into the atmosphere, and the scenery that attracts vital tourism is being destroyed.

  Industrial Scale Solar Facilities  
  Like Daggett Solar Power Are Unnecessary
 

    Rooftop Solar at the point-of-use is an environmentally superior alternative to industrial-scale solar destroying the desert.

    As I published in 2018, a 2016 UCLA study has shown that there is sufficient rooftop space to provide all of the photovoltaic solar power generation necessary for the Los Angeles region's current and future power needs without the necessity of destructive industrial-size solar farms.

    The data appears transferable to the entire state and that the destruction of our natural deserts and California's Central Valley for solar isn't necessary.  The information isn't new.

    Investor Owned Utilities have successfully lobbied misinformation to the California Public Utilities Commission to discourage rooftop solar, thereby reaping profits from transmission lines from distant solar facilities.

    The Sierra Club has published an excellent special magazine edition of their Desert Report in August 2022, regarding photovoltaic power generation.  An article titled, The Utility "Cost Shift" Fallacy, illustrates the state's misdirection of destructive industrial solar power generation over that of promoting distribution (rooftop) solar.

    If there is an alternative to creating an environmental injustice, the law requires going with the mitigating alternative.  There is an alternative to the massive destructiveness of the industrial-scale solar facilities upon the desert, it is called rooftop solar.  The common sense and reliability of generating power at the place of power consumption without costly transmission lines.



Click to enlarge.

    In the matter of the Daggett Solar Power Facility, the County of San Bernardino and the Mojave Desert AQMD knew of the foreseeable irreparable harm to Newberry Springs and they failed in their obligation to uphold State Law.

Silver Valley Road westward with a right
northbound turn on Minneola Road.


News media higher resolution here (373 MB).
Note: The dust in the wind does not blow from everywhere
but from where Clearway has bladed the soil.

  Homes Are Now Unsafe  


    A PM10 meter reading inside a tightly sealed vehicle.  Consider the meter reading in a desert residence with a common evaporation swamp cooler.  Then consider the elderly who can't turn on the cooler due to the dust and common desert temperatures of over 110 degrees.

    The baking home sealed against the dust is rendered unlivable inside.  Due to economic factors, the inhabitants have no place to go.  The situation is life-threatening.

    Most of the residences in Newberry Springs use swap coolers.  They are highly effective and economical for cooling the air and adding humidity.

    Unfortunately, they are open systems that are being clogged by Clearway's blowing dust that quickly clogs the water-covered filter and fills the water reservoir with a sandy "mud."

    The sandy water then quickly ages the system's water pump.

    The customary attachment of the cooler directly to the interior allows a path for some fine dust to enter the residence.

    The ability to cool the air is vital for survival in the desert.  Annual cooler maintenance is normal.  During winds, Clearway's dust is requiring constant rooftop cooler cleaning that the elderly can not do themselves nor afford.

  Dust Clogging Swamp Coolers  

Facebook


Jodi Elder-Howard, General Manager,
Newberry Community Services District ~ January 23, 2022.

  Animals Are Having Trouble  


X-ray of "B.L."

    B.L. was a family dog in Newberry Springs that began having a constant cough with the timing of Clearway Energy's dust.  The owner took B.L. to a Barstow veterinarian where B.L. wouldn't cough.

    Returned to its home environment, B.L. began coughing again.  On a revisit to the veterinarian, B.L. was x-rayed where sand was discovered in B.L.'s stomach.  B.L. later died.

  Photo Album  

    Minneola Road facing northbound just south of Silver Valley Road.  Dangerous silica dust darkens the sky during the late afternoon of February 21, 2022.

Road Closure.
"BROWN OUT CONDITIONS VISIB 10-15 FT"  ~ CHP log.
Click for enlargement.


Facing northbound on Minneola south of Silver Valley.  Carcinogenic dust forms a southern wall along Silver Valley Road.


Facing southbound on Minneola Road.
The vehicle is turning left onto Valley Center Road.
Portions of Minneola Road were down to 25 feet of visibility.


    The residence just north of the solar project on Minneola Road is inundated by heavy blown dust.


    Unpaved Silver Valley Road facing eastbound west of Minneola Road (treeline).  Note the dust rising from the Clearway project on the left versus the clear unmowed area on the right.  The dust rises hundreds of feet eastward and then expands over Newberry Springs.

    Idle water trucks presumably with a binder agent on a Sunday south of the dust blow.

    Dust complaints are handled by the county's Code Enforcement Department and the MDAQMD.  Closed on weekends and holidays, the government entities have failed to hold Clearway accountable to the construction requirements.

    Despite Clearway's assurances that dust would not impact Newberry, Blattner was prepared with warning signs to the contrary.

      After a wind event, the Minneola fence line facing south from Valley Center Road.  A ridge of sand has blown over the fence and extends to near Silver Valley Road.  Minneola Road is to the left of the photo.  Sunday, June 5, 2022.

      Clearway's 6-foot sand fence.  The photo was taken facing westerly just west of Minneola Road, Sunday, June 5, 2022.

    The sand along this eastside portion of the 6-foot fence is only a couple of feet high.  But look closely between the fence slats and see the sand line behind the fence (click photo to enlarge).

    When the sand backs up against the fence as shown here, it forms a ramp for blowing sand to easily fly over the fence.  The photo was taken on June 5, 2022.


The interior fence line is cleared of sand by an excavator.


One of the large excavators being used to remove the blown sand.

    Most sand will blow below 6 feet in height, but the microscopic dust can blow hundreds to thousands of feet high and spread over vast areas.

    Excavator with three waiting dump trucks slowly removes the tremendous amount of blown sand (left) that was backed up to the fence (right).  It took weeks to clear the sand along this one-mile fence line.

    The worse wind period is December through June when construction disturbing the soil should not be done.  This photo was taken on June 27, 2022.

Facebook ~ Community Watch ~ June 7, 2022.

Facebook ~ Rants and Raves ~ June 7, 2022.

Minneola Road northbound with a right
eastward turn on Silver Valley Road.

Clearway Energy / Blattner Energy / TotalEnergies'
Failure To Contain Toxic Dust

Frustration


Frustration in Newberry Springs over Clearway Energy.

  The Rogue Mojave Desert AQMD  

This e-mail (blue frame) was first published on May 14, 2022,
in the Newberry Springs Community Alliance news blog.


Click to enlarge.

    No, Mr. De Salvio, impacted residents should not need to knock on other doors!  It was and is the Mojave Desert AQMD's (MDAQMD) responsibility to effectively monitor and to have shut down the Clearway construction site before it became a major toxic health hazard and necessary for the injured residents to repeatedly complain about ailments after having been repeatedly exposed.

    Dust is regulated because it is ultrahazardous!

    Alan De Salvio, as an Air Pollution Control Officer, by virtue of state law has the authority, the responsibility, and the obligation to step in and shut down a dangerous polluter until a remedy is established.  Clearway Energy is a massive polluter that is continuing construction that will further aggravate continuing dust blows and injuries.

    "Air Pollution Control Officer" or "APCO" means the appointed head of a local air quality management district or air pollution control district whose appointment and duties are set forth in California's Health and Safety Code § 40750-40753.
                                        Cal. Air Resources Board

    Yet, after the overwhelming evidence of many months of the blowing toxic hazard, the MDAQMD claims that its inspectors haven't seen any fugitive dust violations!  Despite wind events that are forecasted many days in advance, inspectors don't respond until after a reported event.

    Apparently, the MDAQMD inspectors immediately return to their office if they don't see anything.  They don't make any contact with the complaint filer.  This may be creating liability for the AQMD.

    Does a responding fire department immediately return to their fire station if upon arrival at a called-in fire scene they don't see any fire or smoke?  Does a doctor dismiss a patient's complaint of pain by merely glancing at the patient?  No, both instances would be malpractice and malfeasance.  A follow-up investigation into the problem is necessary to understand it.

    As De Salvio acknowledged, "On high wind days everything and I mean everything blows in that area."  So, why allow 5.5-square-miles of desert silica crust to be broken open and mowed into an exposed hazardous dust powder without a covering?

    And contrary to De Salvio's statement, as shown in the many above photographs and videos, not "everything blows."  Only the large amount of carcinogenic silica dust blowing off of Clearway's mowed areas.  A vast difference to the undisturbed adjacent land.

    Carcinogenic silica dust is known to be leaving the Clearway site in massive amounts!  For the construction permit, Clearway assured the County and the MDAQMD that it would prevent fugitive dust from leaving its solar site.  It is also written into the project's Conditions of Approval (which the County is not enforcing).  County Conditions #1 (32-pages 881 KB PDF) • County Conditions #2 (25 pages 881 KB PDF)


Click to enlarge.

    The above is a snippet from a brochure (1.5 MB) co-sponsored by the MDAQMD containing the relevant MDAQMD rules.  Why hasn't prescribed Rule 402 - Nuisance been enforced?  The APCO, as a state authorized enforcement officer, has failed to act in violation of California Health & Safety Code § 40752(b).  The Clearway Energy project needs to cease further construction and injuries until Rule 402 compliance can be guaranteed.

Color of law violations include... Failure to keep from harm:
    The public counts on its law enforcement officials to protect local communities.  If it's shown that an official willfully failed to keep an individual from harm, that official could be in violation of the color of law statute.
                                                        FBI website.

    Obviously, Clearway Energy is also not taking "every reasonable precaution to prevent visible PM from being deposited upon public roadways as a direct result of their operation..." (above brochure) when the California Highway Patrol has to shut down a major community roadway due to fugitive sand and dust.  Clearway can and should cease further disturbance of the soil until a satisfactory remedy is in place.

    Clearway Energy is deliberately exasperating the injuries against Newberry Springs.  Lives are being injured!

    The above (Alan J. De Salvio) report to the County that "...they are complying with the DCP" (Dust Control Plan) is blatantly inflammatory.

    The Mojave Desert AQMD has been a major contributor to the problem.  The MDAQMD has signed off on what appears to be an unstudied, untested, and asinine Dust Control Plan that depends upon water and binders that have years ago been found ineffective in a similar and highly publicized dust situation that was handled by the adjacent Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District.

    While other Air Quality Management Districts have evolved, why hasn't the Mojave Desert AQMD?  Why are they sanctioning projects that emit massive amounts of an airborne California Prop. 65 carcinogen upon residential neighborhoods?

    The MDAQMD's Dust Control Plan for the Clearway project, stamped as approved by no one less than Executive Director Brad Poiriez, appears to be little more than the copy/paste of a control plan for a large industrial building that will have most of the land covered over by structure, parking asphalt, and landscaping.

    Simply spreading water and a binder on disturbed eolian soil that has a 'high to very high' blow propensity, and in a Sand Transport Path wind tunnel in a dry desert, is not a professional, scientific remedy.  It represents the antiquated MDAQMD's Rules, incompetency, malfeasance, and inability to fulfill its state-mandated duty to protect the public's air quality, which is the core purpose of the MDAQMD's existence.

    "For nearly 30 years, the staff and leadership at MDAQMD have continued our cooperative working relationship with regulated industry.  We strive to serve as a business-friendly model for air districts across the state and I'm honored for the opportunity to carry on this tradition."
                              Brad Poiriez, MDAQMD Exec. Dir.

    The 'business-friendly model' appears to be protecting dirty business polluters over that of residents.  That accounts for the MDAQMD's major failures with Newberry Springs and with Hinkley's Synagro Nursery Products.

    The MDAQMD's efforts seem to be concentrated on monitoring pollutants from combustion.  Carcinogenic pollutants such as silica dust appear to be willfully ignored as no serious actions against the fugitive dust from Clearway have been done.  The MDAQMD appears negligent in having adequate Rules to address the hazards of silica dust from industrial-scale solar site polluters.

    The MDAQMD's actions and inactions represent an extreme dereliction of duty.  The MDAQMD never should have approved the siting in the first place.  The MDAQMD lacked prior air monitoring and equipment at the 5.5-square-mile site.  It lacked a necessary baseline air study and the necessary scientific data in which to issue an approval.  Yet, it approved the project despite being alerted early during the CEQA study by the public of the severe dust problems and the necessity of having a two-year baseline air study.

    Despite knowing of the Sand Transport Path and that "...I mean everything blows in that area," and that the valley floor has a 'high to very high' eolian dust blow capability, the MDAQMD was exceptionally reckless in approving the Clearway Energy project.

    The MDAQMD's misleading compliance communication to the County officials (above) is turning a blind eye to the human suffering, the suffering of animals, and the property damage that is being done.  It is a reflective example of how the Daggett Solar Power Facility was improperly permitted contrary to laws, governmental policy guidelines, and safeguards.

    The MDAQMD hasn't accidentally failed to act... it has intentionally chosen not to act by hiding behind its self-serving, ineffective Rules and miserable substandard procedures.

  Final Thoughts  
  The Big government bullies.  

    The fact that Newberry Springs is a rural, marginalized, and an economically disadvantaged community is likely the basis for the systemic discriminatory pattern of social and environmental injustice that it is being subjected to by the County of San Bernardino and the Mojave Desert AQMD.

    The above culture of discriminative abominations would never be directed at a higher income, urban community.  The County and the MDAQMD are enforcing unequal and bias treatment in their decisions, activities, and services.

    Newberry Springs is comprised of many sensitive elderly people who are now suffering from the trespass of massive amounts of sand and dust.  The public and private nuisances are being created through the intentional negligence of Clearway Energy, the County of San Bernardino, and the Mojave Desert AQMD.

    During the Daggett Solar Power Facility's permit process, both the applicant and the County, and the MDAQMD were warned of the inevitable great harm that the proposed siting would cause.  With indifference and with reckless disregard for the inevitable consequences to the health and the safety of Newberry Springs' citizens, the project was egregiously approved.

    Thereafter, both the County and the MDAQMD have intentionally, negligently, and oppressively failed to perform their obligation to monitor and address the health violations of Clearway Energy, thereby allowing the project's ultrahazardous injuries to continue for many months, to the financial benefit of pirating corporations foreign to the county.

    The residents are now suffering in part, great physical and emotional distress from the knowledge that breathing the air is damaging one's body, spouse, children, and pets.  Families are witnessing acute asthma attacks and other respiratory distresses, sinus problems including nose bleeds, headaches, coughing, sneezing, irritated eye problems, and numerous other emotional stresses from the dust and sand getting onto food, on furniture throughout houses, the continual annoyances, inconveniences, and sand blocked driveways.

    The fugitive dust has caused animal abuse problems that include sneezing, reverse sneezing, reproductive decline for breeders, and reported sickness and death to some outdoor animals.

    Damages to the community's aesthetics and important scenic views for tourism, and the damages to cultural resources have negatively impacted the community, as has been the removal of taxable community land from the county's tax rolls as solar farms are tax-exempt by State Law.  This reduces the area's shared tax funds and public services.

    Most residents can not afford to move.  The value of their most important investment, their home, has dropped.  Home buyers do not want to purchase in a toxic zone.  Many residential properties are now "underwater" and becoming unmarketable.

    In essence, with the multiple County and MDAQMD officials permitting the project with the knowledge of the damaging impacts to the local residents, we allegedly have an unconstitutional "Taking" of private property, quality of life values, and infliction of great emotional distress without compensation.  (Title 18, U.S.C., Section 241 - Conspiracy Against Rights; Title 18, U.S.C., Section 242 - Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law)

    For those Newberrians who are planning to file a legal action against Clearway Energy and TotalEnergy, in my humble opinion as a legal layman, both the County of San Bernardino and the Mojave Desert AQMD need to be held accountable and are strong candidates to be named as defendants.  They have intentionally signed off on a very dangerous health hazard that is severely damaging the physical and emotional health, life, and property of the residents of Newberry Springs.  Furthermore, they have failed in their duty to properly monitor the project.

The highly inadequate
Mojave Desert AQMD's dust control plan
.

This document has been renewed. (Requirement number 6.)

"If you make yourselves sheep,
the wolves will eat you."
                   ~ Benjamin Franklin

    Clearway Energy and TotalEnergies' Daggett Solar Power Facility need to immediately stop construction until it is proven that the project can be safely built without emitting carcinogenic silica dust upon the Environmental Justice focus community of Newberry Springs.

newberrystrong@mail.com

© 2022 Ted Stimpfel.   All rights reserved.