On the attack – that’s the way observers described Los Angeles Department of Water and Power attorney, Stuart Somach as he battled through a hearing before the California Air Resources Board in Sacramento against local air pollution control orders in Inyo County.
APCD Director Ted Schade had analyzed the Owens Dry Lake pollution, as required by a signed agreement and by law. He found the need for DWP to clean up 2.9 square miles more to meet federal air quality standards. LADWP exploded and refused.
At Friday’s Sacramento hearing, Somach was described as very confrontive. He told the hearing officer that the issue has been in dispute a long time with no satisfactory conclusion. “We are done,” pronounced Somach. “We are not going to continue to argue.”
At one point, Somach said the State Lands Commission is responsible for the dust clean-up, even though LADWP signed agreements saying they were. Somach called the relationship between State Lands and the APCD “Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee.”
LA and APCD each had 2 hours to make their cases. Somach and LA experts argued that the lake level was lower when DWP started diverting water. They attacked the APCD computer models and then claimed that archaeological artifacts in the lake bed can not now be disturbed. Then they turned to the expense of water for dust mitigation and what a waste it is. DWP’s lawyer did not say that LA was never required to use water to mitigate the dust. They can use gravel.
APCD’s layer, Peter Hsiao pointed to the legal air quality requirements. LADWP is bound by signed agreements from 1997 forward and by local, state and federal air quality laws. The Air Resources staff had analyzed everything for 10 months and found in favor of APCD on every point.
Director Schade said he has been willing to work with LADWP on their concerns, but he said, “They can’t say they’re done until they’re done meeting legal requirements.”
Executive Hearing officer, James Goldstene, asked both sides to draft proposed orders. He will then come up with the final order in 30 days.