By Deb Murphy
After eight years of workshops, community outreach, discussion, wrangling with conflicting community needs and compromise, Inyo’s Board of Supervisors and Planning Department thought the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan was a done deal back in 2016.
As Supervisor Rick Pucci put it “a good plan is one nobody likes.” By that definition the DRECP was a good plan but now it’s back on the operating table with surgeons poised to dissect it, by executive order from the White House.
The planning process focused on meeting the state goals of 33-percent of California’s energy coming from renewable sources by 2020 while still protecting valuable habitat. According to Karen Douglas from the California Energy Commission, the state is almost there at 30-percent.
Phase one of the DRECP dealt with 22-million acres of Bureau of Land Management lands including the southeast portion of Inyo County. Neither Douglas nor the dozen residents providing public comment wanted to see the document re-opened and potentially dismantled.
The question for the Board was how to respond to the issue. In her presentation, Inyo Planning Director Kathreen Richards noted some of the issues the Supervisors had with the final product. Initially Supervisors Jeff Griffiths and Matt Kingsley wanted to include those issues in their letter to the BLM, though both agreed those same issues could be dealt with as the plan was implemented.
Jora Fogg, policy director for Friends of the Inyo, urged the Board to put together a strong letter in opposition to re-opening the DRECP without including what “you don’t like about it.” Pucci, Supervisor Mark Tillemans and Board Chair Dan Totheroh agreed with Fogg. “If we put in too much detail,” Pucci said, “it will look like we want it re-opened. Just keep it simple.”
Totheroh directed staff to put together the comment letter to BLM as well as a list of other Washington, D.C. recipients including Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.
The quote of the day came from John Lough as he urged the County to stay engaged in the process. “If you’re not at the table, you’re probably on the menu.”