Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan
Pulverized By Public At Victorville Meeting
• High Impact To Newberry Springs •
Over several hundred people caused standing room only at the Victorville DRECP public meeting.
November 1, 2014
Governmental agencies challenged on faulty planning.
A well prepared audience, particularly from Lucerne and the Morongo
Valley, packed the public meeting venue at the Hilton Garden Inn in Victorville last Wednesday,
October 29, 2014.
The topic was the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) which
is an unwieldy 6-thousand plus page plan by the California Energy Commission, the California Department
of Fish and Game, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to
regulate 22.5-million acres of federal and non-federal California desert land in seven counties,
including Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego. The
purpose is to set aside solar, wind, and geothermal sites to fast-track renewable energy
developments with minimal environmental review and oversight.
The DRECP is part of President Barack Obama's legacy to rapidly
expand alternative energy installations.
The Administration's goal of streamlining the regulatory process is like the Ford
Motor Company's institution of the assembly line, whereby large scale alternative energy projects
can be quickly placed into preselected sites where developers can better predict their costs
and timelines, as federal and state environmental protections have already been predetermined.
The plan is posed to limit time consuming lawsuits that seek adherence to environmental laws.
At the Victorville public meeting, a number of alternative plans
were presented. The Preferred Development Focus Areas are shown in red, and includes
much of Newberry Springs. The adjacent
(clickable to enlarge)
map is only a very tiny portion of the DRECP's 22.5-million acres but shows most all of
Newberry Springs being targeted for its rural disturbed land.
Disturbed also were the hundreds attending the meeting, with over
50 people speaking on the errors and ommissions contained within the recently released plan and
the outdated and false assumptions contained within the study.
The problematic plan is being driven by Washington politics.
To understand, in small part, how bad this plan actually is, click
for an excellent October 23, 2014 KCET Commentary describing this horrendous project
that the County of San Bernardino has embedded itself with.
Much of the targeted land in Newberry Springs is county
controlled and zoned Rural Living. Although a Newberry Springs resident has
asserted before the county's Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors that
the county's alternative energy ordinance should protect Rural Living zoned land from the blight
of industialized solar and wind projects, the Planning Commission and Board of
Supervisors have backed the county's morally corrupt and inept Land Use Services
Department's recommendation in not doing so. This appears to be solely to allow
Land Use Services to continue to dominate inappropriate power over the privately held
This has set a chilling effect over the financial value of
Rural Living zoned properties that has depressed real estate values as no one knows
if a huge industrial solar complex or 600-foot wind towers might be built on adjacent
parcels. Real estate brokers are required to disclose such significant problems
to potential buyers.
Placement of industrial solar and wind do create temporary jobs,
many for those residing outside San Bernardino county; and they do temporarily boost the economy
of nearby towns with lodging and food for the workers; however, industrial alternative power
facilities are largely exempt from property taxes and they depreciate the value of adjacent
and nearby parcels for residential use and scar the landscape for tourism.
The state of California, under Visit California, spends
many millions of dollars each year promoting tourism. A portion of that
money is directed to the Inland Empire to attract tourists to the wide open deserts
and their scenic vistas. Tourism represents a growing, significant on-going
revenue stream to the county. Industrialized alternative energy projects do not;
rather, they are highly counterproductive to tourism.
Despite the sheer magnitude of the DRECP and its potentially devastating
impact upon Newberry Springs, and despite many media stories about the upcoming October 29, 2014
public meeting in Victorville, the Newberry CSD board at its October 28 general board meeting,
did not seem to be aware of what DRECP stood for. This is despite the fact that the plan has
been worked on for seven years. And the Blotter doing a blog on it on April 20, 2013
The narrators at the public discussion in Victorville
repeatedly commented that public
input was welcomed and valued; however, words from the podium throughout the meeting sounded like
sales pitches and not an open mind to the many flaws contained within the plan.
Pictured (left) is Barstow resident Bob Conaway, who as a public speaker
called the DRECP a sham that would likely be approved by low level government employees fearing
for their jobs.
The DRECP comprises the majority of San Bernardino county's
desert and includes much of the First and Third Supervisor Districts. The two
supervisor seats are held by Supervisors Robert A. Lovingood and James Ramos who have
voted inconsistantly on protecting the desert, its residents, viewscapes, habitat, and
following the laws of CEQA.
The preferred alternate plan does involve much less land than the
other alternatives and does remove much of the Bureau of Land Management's land from development;
but the development emphasis is shifted to private county land. With the Land Use Services
Department fully supporting the
contained in the county's San Bernardino County Partnership for Renewable
Energy & Conservation (SPARC) plan; and with the unpredictability of the Board of
Supervisors standing-up for the citizens of the county, there is reason not to sleep well.
Related past blogs:
Federal & State "Conservation Plan" guts environmental protections. - 4/20/13
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