By Don Pelton
The Wolf Creek Community Alliance (full disclosure: I’m on the board) received this today from Trisha Tillotson, Senior Civil Engineer/Deputy Director of Public Works, City of Grass Valley.
A new local non-profit, the Bear Yuba Watershed Defense Fund (BYWDF), filed a lawsuit on June 3rd to block Nevada County from issuing a use permit for the Blue Lead Mine. The suit, according to the BYWDF press release (below) is based on the contention that Nevada County, as the lead agency, violated CEQA (the California Environmental Quality Act), because “it did not adequately address water quality issues due to the presence of mercury on the Blue Lead Mine site, a legacy mining site.”
Here’s the press release in full:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 13, 2015
Non Profit BEAR YUBA WATERSHED DEFENSE FUND Established
A non-profit organization established to protect the two watersheds in this area was formed last month and is launching a fund-raising campaign to fully fund its first project and continue ongoing as an environmental defense organization specifically for the Bear and Yuba watersheds.
Filling a lawsuit on June 3 naming the County of Nevada, the Bear Yuba Watershed Defense Fund is asking the court to set aside the April 28 decision of the Nevada County Board of Supervisors to approve, without a full Environment Impact Report, a use permit for the Blue Lead Mine, which was permitted as a 20-year, open-pit gold mining operation, located approximately 3.5 miles east of the Nevada County Air Park and adjacent to Greenhorn Creek.
In fact, the momentum to found BYWDF was launched after communications among area young people, the millennial generation, who typically asked…”what can we do to stop the Blue Lead?” And thus, the Bear Yuba Watershed Defense Fund found its reason to be.
In consideration of next generation’s concern for our water and to protect the watersheds, BYWDF filed this lawsuit contending that the County as lead agency violated CEQA, a State environmental law, because it did not adequately address water quality issues due to the presence of mercury on the Blue Lead site, a legacy mine site; nor did the County adequately address water quantity issues with knowledge the Blue Lead Mine will use copious amounts of water. The Blue Lead as designed will pump during dry years two groundwater wells, 24-7, 365 days all year to obtain enough water to operate this open-pit placer gold mine (see Water Study at link following).
“It’s about the water…let’s NOT be stupid” is the mantra of the Bear Yuba Watershed Defense Fund.
When a governing agency circumvents laws intended to protect our home lands, sometimes We, the People must resort to using the law–to test and force compliance with any State or Federal laws. Approval of the Blue Lead Mine is one of those times; and the founding directors of BYWDF along with several individuals and organizations in this area who are already aligned with the efforts of BYWDF thank everyone, in advance, who can contribute any dollar amount towards this grass roots effort to protect our watersheds, and thus our home lands, from water-hogging projects and projects which threaten exposure of toxic or hazardous materials.
Learn More About It
• The Bear River Watershed is Number 76, and the Yuba River Watershed is Number 77 on Watershed Maps from the California Department of Conservation:
• For the effects of Mercury and methylated mercury on your health read Diagnosis: Mercury, Money, Politics and Poison by Jane M. Hightower, M.D.:
• For background documents including the water study on the Blue Lead Mine, a search on “Blue Lead Mine” at: http://www.mynevadacounty.com/search/pages/Results.aspx?k=Blue%20Lead%20Mine
• For an education about the effects of legacy mining in the Sierra go to the website for The Sierra Fund at: https://www.sierrafund.org
For additional information contact:
Bear Yuba Watershed Defense Fund
P O Box 262
Chicago Park, CA 95712
Keep It California: “Please Come to the Nevada County Board of Supervisors Meeting on May 12th at 12:30 PM”
I hear from Margaret Joehnck (with Keep It California Nevada County) that she and Kevin Hendricks, who headed up the successful Keep It California campaign to defeat the State of Jefferson ballot initiative in Del Norte County, will be interviewed by Lee Oborne on his show (Random Rants) on KVMR at 12 noon tomorrow (Wednesday, May 6th).
For more information, see the Keep It California website.
When we arranged with the local tree experts and altogether good people at Trees Unlimited to fell about a half dozen large ponderosas on our property and have them trucked to a mill, we scheduled the work to be done on Friday the 13th, disregarding all the silly supersitions about that date.
It turned out to be an unlucky date for us, though.
They had to cancel the job due to a work slowdown at the container ports on the West Coast. The mills can’t ship any more lumber to these ports (for the Chinese market, among others), because of a labor-management dispute between the International Longshoremen’s Association and the ports’ management (the Pacific Maritime Association).
And we can’t have the trees just felled and remain on the ground until the dispute is resolved. That could be weeks, or even months. By that time, the trees would no longer be marketable.
The work slowdown affects many more industries besides our local tree people.
It’d be interesting to know the full impact of the slowdown on Nevada County’s economy. We know that it’s affecting a lot of tree work here in addition to our own.
In the meantime, there’s no doubt that the slowdown is affecting businesses in neighboring California counties:
On Friday, the California Assembly Republican Caucus issued a press release begging the union and the port management to quickly resolve their dispute, calling attention to the harm already being done to California’s agricultural economy:
“The ongoing West Coast port labor dispute is having a devastating impact on our economy. Farmers and ranchers in particular are having a tough time shipping perishable food to customers worldwide. It is unacceptable that California’s economy is essentially being held hostage to a labor dispute,” said Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen, of Modesto. “I am calling for action from President Obama and the federal government to intervene and secure a resolution so we can get our ports fully operating again.”
“Farmers, small business owners, retailers, truckers, consumers and nearly every Californian are being impacted by this ongoing dispute that has brought our ports to a virtual standstill,” said Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Nicolaus). “I call upon both sides to come together to resolve this dispute without delay. President Obama and the federal government must also use every power at their discretion to bring the parties together to reach a settlement.”
“As we speak, precious fruits and vegetables are rotting in shipping containers that are bottlenecked at our West Coast ports,” said Assemblyman Devon Mathis (R-Porterville). “Our Central Valley has already been hit hard by the ongoing drought. The agricultural products our communities managed to produce despite the lack of water have been thrown to the wayside due to this disruptive labor dispute. We cannot allow these exports to sit for one day longer.”
The labor dispute at the West Coast ports has waged on for nine months. On Wednesday, it was announced that port operations will be suspended for four days as a result of the current labor dispute. According to one estimate, it could cost the country $2.1 billion per day if the ports shut down entirely for 10 days. Worse, congestion at West Coast ports could cost retailers as much as $7 billion this year alone.
According to the following business report, the President could force a cooling-off period under Taft-Hartley if the slowdown were to become a full-fledged strike or a complete lockout. In the meantime, the daily dollar cost of the slowdown is probably in the billions nationwide.
OK, we had some “fun” this morning. We got an automated call from 866-419-5000 on our Magic Jack home phone (an Internet phone). I did a quick Google search for that number (since I was sitting at my computer when the phone rang) and — to add some extra confusion to the morning — the search results included complaints about spam and nuisance calls from that number.
But listening to the message, I heard this:
“This is the Nevada County Emergency Call Center. Stay inside your residence. There is a subject shooting a rifle in your area.“
I walked around and looked out all the windows in the growing pre-dawn light. I saw nothing. Heard nothing. Very quiet.
I called 911 and the answering operator said, “Disregard that call. It was a computer glitch. The message was meant for the Kingvale area. Gotta go, I’ve got more calls to answer.” (I could hear the phone ringing off the hook in the background).
About a half hour after all that, we got another automated call from the same emergency service with the same caution about staying inside, but referring to a shooting in the Truckee area!
I hope this emergency system doesn’t turn out to be a modern day version of crying wolf.
Best headline in today’s Union:
“Nevada City woman arrested for stealing friend’s car, evading police under the influence”
I don’t steal cars, but I agree that it’s best to avoid drunk cops.
By Steve Frisch
I have been thinking a lot about our regional climate change skeptics in the Sierra Nevada and their impact on public policy. Occasionally I do my share of getting into debates and doing a little warming myself though I know it simply empowers their position at times.
I do however have a couple of observations about how they make their case and the consequences.
Rarely do they get into the actual scientifically peer reviewed papers and make their case based on the efficacy of the science itself.
The case I hear is that any science wholly or even partially funded by the government or private foundations done by agencies, academic institutions, professional groups, or individual scientists is inherently flawed due to their source of funding. Then I hear that any science using past data funded by any of these groups is inherently flawed due to confirmation bias. Next I hear that the peer review process itself is inherently flawed due to dependence on government funding. Then I hear that when the aggregate data and multiple proof points indicate a significant change occurring we should be giving more weight to the outlier data proving the opposite, as though the very small percentage of those valid peer reviewed reports should be given some weight that contrary data is not due. Finally I hear that if there is some evidence that anthropogenic climate change is occurring the cost of doing something about it is prohibitive.
It is as though climate skeptics do not wish to even understand or acknowledge the peer review process and the critical role it plays in vetting data and its analysis.
I guess this would not be an issue if the consequences of being wrong were not so high.
The impact of a changing climate on California’s water supply alone is measured in the tens of billions of dollars in economic impact annually. Worse, because we live in a state where the vast majority of people do believe climate change is a real threat, and our state has adopted policies to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change through laws like AB 32 and SB 375, the low carbon fuels standard and the renewable portfolio standard, much of our state is rushing ahead with adaptation and mitigation strategies, strategies funded through a combination of our state general fund budget, surcharges on electricity, and revenue derived from the Cap and Trade program. Those revenues are being used to adapt our infrastructure, like water delivery systems, roads, bridges transportation networks, and wastewater treatment. Those revenues can also be directed at solving the seemingly insurmountable problem in the Sierra Nevada of long-term forest management and wildfire management, establishing a link between forests, mountains, watershed management, and water supply that is the number one commodity export of the Sierra Nevada and the source of much of our states wealth.
The problem we face is that distribution of revenue is controlled by a political process; our state budget voted on by legislators annually. In a political process funds don’t get distributed to regions and legislative districts where the elected representatives don’t acknowledge a problem is occurring and actively obstruct solving the problem in other areas of the state. Consequently the Sierra Nevada and its climate related issues do not receive their fair share of state funding which is being paid for by all of the taxpayer of the state, even us rural residents.
The stakes are very high indeed; by 2020 more than $5 billion per year will be distributed to adapt to climate change in California. Where will that money go? Who will benefit from the public works, construction, community improvement and middle class jobs related to implementation?
We are allowing the voice of a small minority of climate skeptics and their ability to influence our local politics by being the ‘loudest voice in the room’ to deny our region the funding we deserve, relegating our local communities and economies to a permanent backwater and underprivileged status.
The Onion may be parodying this phenomenon, but our communities are living it, we are watching as billions of dollars a year are collected from our residents and going to urban districts where the populous is more amenable to climate adaption and mitigation strategies. If I were a rural legislator I might listen to the skeptics, but I would not deny my regions the fruits of their taxes, surcharges and fees.
At some point pragmatism has to take over.
I only wish I knew where that point was so I could push to reach it.
Steve Frisch is President of the Sierra Business Council and one of its founding members. He is a dedicated project manager with over 20 years experience managing people in a highly competitive environment. Steve manages SBC’s program staff and programmatic development. He also manages sustainable business and building projects to encourage the adoption of socially responsible business and development practices.
Prior to joining the Sierra Business Council, Steve owned and operated a small business in Truckee, California and was president of the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association. Steve has served on the Nevada County Welfare Reform Commission, the Town of Truckee redevelopment agency formation committee and as an advisor to the California Resources Agency’s California Legacy Project.
Why is that only the worst of Nevada County — in this case another right-wing gun nut — makes the national news?
Esteemed journalist and historian Rick Perlstein, writing in Salon, found occasion to notice this Nevada County event (while gently chiding the New York Times for failing to cover it):
Here is a truth so fundamental that it should be self-evident: When legitimately constituted state authority stands down in the face of armed threats, the very foundation of the republic is in danger. And yet that is exactly what happened at Cliven Bundy’s Nevada ranch this spring: An alleged criminal defeated the cops, because the forces of lawlessness came at them with guns — then Bureau of Land Management officials further surrendered by removing the government markings from their vehicles to prevent violence against them.
What should be judged a watershed in American history instead became a story about one man’s racist rants. Even as two more Nevada lunatics, inspired by their stint at Cliven Bundy’s ranch, allegedly ambushed and mowed down two police officers and killed a bystander after crying, “This is the start of a revolution.” And now, an antigovernment conspiracy theorist named Douglas Cole recently shot at two police officers in Nevada County, California (though you may not have heard about that, because the New York Times hasn’t found the news yet fit to print).
Ah, but here’s some Nevada County news that the New York Times did find “fit to print.” But wait, it’s also bad news!
Nevada County ranks 58th of 58 in diversity in California.
Students, in 2006 15,446 White 13,496 87% Black 142 1% Hispanic 1,336 9% Asian 240 2% Native American 232 2%
Some might consider Nevada County’s connection to the founding of the Tea Party Patriots good news. But there’s hardly a consensus about that.
I look forward to the day when we get into the national news for integrating our local economic and environmental interests, for our understanding of the economic importance of restoring local watersheds, for our leadership in bridging the urban/rural divide. and for our creative reconciliation of liberal and conservative values.
The fact that this all sounds very idealistic and touchy-feely is an indication of how far we have to go in making it a reality.
But why else should we be here, if not to work for that?
By Don Pelton
Here’s a short (4+ minute) video loop Jane and I made for the Wolf Creek Community Alliance non-profit display table being featured at the Grass Valley Center for the Arts for the month of June. (Full disclosure: I’m a member of the WCCA Board).