Despite the apathy for civic events in the Silver Valley, the Daggett
Community Center was moderately filled with approximately 50-residents for the County's
Land Use Services' Scoping meeting held Wednesday afternoon, April 11, 2018.
Representatives for the County and the solar developer opened the
meeting with a very brief description of the proposed 3,500-acre photovoltaic
project. The superficial description of the massive project provided little
The short presentation did not address any of the environmental
issues for the environmental meeting nor any mitigation proposals. When a
couple individuals spoke-up and asked questions, they were reprimanded to wait
to ask their questions at the end of the presentation.
At the end of the short, non-detailed description of the project,
the floor was immediately opened to the public to voice their environmental concerns
and what they wanted to have addressed in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
They were restricted in only being allowed an arbitrary 3-minutes to speak. Only
3-minutes to defend their lifelong investments in family, home, and community.
EIRs shall include identification of all significant effects,
alternatives, and potential mitigation measures.
(PRC § 21000-21004)
At some classy Scoping meetings, a stenographer takes down the
public's exact comments to be later transcribed and followed for the EIR's development.
Was this done? No! Was an audio recording done? No! Well, someone
was taking some cursory notes to capture the general jive of the comments.
For a Scoping meeting, this meeting showed contempt to the public
who took their time to attend the meeting not to have their comments properly recorded.
The process was a sham of the California Environmental Quality Act's Scoping purpose
At the end of the meeting, the County's LUSD's Planning Director
suggested that speakers should put their comments in writing and send them to the
County. Wrong! The County, as the Lead Agency for the EIR, conducts the
Scoping meeting to inform and solicit/record the public's comments for inclusion
into the EIR study. That is the purpose for the public speaking.
The speakers shouldn't have to resubmit their comments.
No projects which would cause significant environmental effects should be
approved as proposed if there are feasible alternatives or mitigation measures that
would lessen those effects. (PRC § 21000-21004)
This further illustrates the general contempt that the county's Land Use
Services Department has towards the public and the department's internal corruption.
This is an example of why Newberry Springs should have had a CEQA
expert attend the meeting to address the procedure. Unfortunately, the Newberry
CSD board under Paula Deel, Victoria Paulsen, Robert Springer, and
Larry Clark, will not release the Kiewit Pacific trust funds to protect the
The community's 14-year old trust funds are apparently being
preserved for another purpose. Would that purpose be to transfer the funds later
to the Deel's NSEDA whereupon they can siphon off administration fees for themselves?
Not surprisingly, a failure of leadership of the Daggett CSD board was
also apparent. Despite the proposed 3,500-acre project impacting their own turf, not
one Daggett CSD board member spoke during the public session nor raised a question.
Apparently, they didn't have the initiative to do any research in preparation for the
meeting. Scoping is not just for listening to a developer's great sales pitch,
but to have questions and concerns ready to have included in the EIR study.
A Daggett CSD board member had earlier expressed a hope that
the Daggett solar project would bring jobs and prosperity. According to
the developer (Sunpower) of the adjacent proposed Newberry Springs Minneola Solar 1
project (1,700-acres), which is one-half the size of the Daggett project
(3,500-acres), the Minneola project, "Once operational, 2 - 4 on-site staff
are expected at the operations and maintenance facility, personnel will
periodically inspect the facility and when necessary personnel will conduct
site maintenance, panel washing, or repairs."
Extrapolating the numbers, the Daggett project will only employ 4 to 8
employees from the general Barstow area. The Daggett solar project actually represents
a loss in jobs when considering the jobs being lost from the number of agricultural fields
that the solar project is replacing.
During the public's speaking period, not one of the 14 people
who spoke came out in support of the project. The Daggett folks were mostly
silent. It was the Newberry Springs residents who are downwind to the project
who presented an unorganized speaker after speaker opposition to the project.
Despite no organization, there was very little overlap and the speakers all had
strong, valid points of opposition.
Nine Newberrians presented a wide range of input.
Two residents from Daggett addressed preservation of Daggett's historical
features and water. One military representative from Ft. Irwin addressed
aircraft operations at the airport. Another speaker suggested that
the National Park Service, the BLM, the FAA, and others needed to be
One speaker from the Morongo Basin said that a minimum
1-year air study (preferably 2-years plus) was needed to be conducted first
for the site to establish a wind and particulate matter baseline for an
analysis; and that the Scoping participants sending in written comments
to the County should also send a copy to the state's Air Resources Board
and the Mojave Desert AQMD. (Addresses provided below.)
At the end of the public comment period, the meeting was closed
without allowing for any group question and answer dialogue between the audience and the
presenters. The presenters did stay after the meeting for individual
one-on-one conversations but that prevented the public from learning from one another
and hearing all of the information.
This method of audience control is a spinoff of
the ideology behind the Delphi Method
whereby the presenter divides the audience during a public meeting and limits the amount
of information internally shared by those attending.
The CEQA process is primarily designed to identify and disclose to
decision makers and the public the significant environmental impacts of a proposed project
prior to its consideration and approval. That process includes the public having
the ability to have their environmental concerns included in the EIR study.
in violation of the spirit of CEQA, the public is being denied by the County's Planning
Director the necessary time to access and review the hundreds of pages of data in the
application which is necessary for the public to understand and fully participate.
But, of course, the County knows that.
A project with the size and negative impacts of the Daggett solar project
requires the County to do a robust Initial Study for the public to understand this project.
The County has refused to do one. Secrecy and a lack of transparency do not allow
full public participation.
Two Newberry speakers requested a minimum 60-day extension of the
Scoping comment period. The County's LUSD Planning Director, Terri Rahhal, later
said that the request would not be honored. Rahhal wants to cannonball the
project through and doesn't want the CEQA process to slow it down.
Daggett Solar Estimated EIR Timetable
LUSD's direction may later cost the County billions.
Ted Stimpfel, of the Newberry Springs Community Alliance, recommended
that the County require a $2-billion, 30-year bond, as protection against future legal
claims. After the meeting, a comment was stated that the dollar amount was ridiculous.
However, in 20 to 30-years, legal awards will probably double. With the Daggett proposed
solar site emitting known cancer-causing, and pulmonary failing crystalline silica,
the asbestos attorneys will have a new rich playground.
When the many hundreds in the class actions are added up and
awarded special punitive damages for the County negligence in knowingly permitting
these unnecessary Sand Transport Path industrial facilities within neighborhoods,
$2-billion will probably fall far short.
Utility-scale solar developments should not be built in any Sand Transport
Path. Numerous communities in the Silver Valley, Lucerne Valley, and the Morongo Basin
are all in Sand Transport Paths. These facilities will also exacerbate
the sand blow upon the railways and highways.
Solar facilities' disturbance of the desert soil creates massive soil
hazards, especially during wind events. Super small particulate matter (PM10
crystalline silica dust) is lifted and is suspended in the air for days. These
unseen particles when inhaled causes irreversible lung disease and cancer. Smart
attorneys will be going after the deep pocket County and the developers as contributing
factors to the deaths and damages from the blowing dust from the solar sites. The
County failed to heed the known dangers and intentionally permitted the deadly hazard.
Deadline to submit comments.
The deadline to submit written comments for inclusion into the EIR
Scoping process is April 26, 2018. The County LUSD must have the submission by
Those who spoke at the Scoping meeting might not have their comments
fully noted and should submit them in writing.
Ref: Daggett Solar Power Facility (P201700679)
Written Scoping comments should be sent to:
County of San Bernardino
Land Use Services Department
Tom Nievez, Contract Planner
385 N. Arrowhead Avenue, First Floor
San Bernardino, CA 92415
It is strongly suggested that copies be sent to :
California Air Resources Board
P.O. Box 2815 Sacramento, CA 95812
Brad Poiriez, Executive Director/Air Pollution Control Officer
Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District
14306 Park Ave
Victorville, CA 92392
Alan De Salvio, Deputy Director - Operations
Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District
14306 Park Ave
Victorville, CA 92392