Two years ago, Los Angeles Times reporter Louis Sahagun compared Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District Director Ted Schade to Gary Cooper in the classic film, “High Noon.” Schade’s battle was not with the old west villains but with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. For roughly 10 years, Schade has stood up to LADWP over dust at the Owens Dry Lake. At the end of this year, Schade will call it quits.
Schade said when he retires he will “get involved with environmental issues in the Owens Valley.” He has already proved himself a formidable opponent. He is smart and takes the position that laws and agreements are meant to be followed. End of story. Former DWP General Manager and a formidable presence himself, David Freeman, was quoted in the 2012 Times’ story as saying that DWP’s gripes about Schade were a polluter claiming a regulator was biased.
Schade joined APCD almost 25 years ago and began monitoring the Dry Lake. At that time, Ellen Hardebeck was Director. Schade took over in 2004. In more recent times, DWP has complained and filed lawsuits to stop cleaning up the dust. Schade points to State law and agreements LADWP signed to clean things up to a specific level. LA hasn’t made it there yet. DWP says they’ve spent $1.2 billion for clean-up and reduced dust pollution by 90%. Today, both sides continue to
negotiate an end to disputes.
Another controversy erupted recently, leaving Schade in what he sees as the same spot – legal
obligations that have to lead to solutions. Mammoth Community Water District sued APCD, alleging violations of the California Environmental Quality Act. MCWD alleges Schade certified Ormat Geothermal’s EIR which they say is seriously flawed. Schade made it clear that he would not issue well permits without a monitoring plan. Once more, standing on law, he defends his position with MCWD. Schade said APCD has never lost a lawsuit and “it is unlikely to lose this one.”
What you might call the friendly side of Schade’s life in the Owens Valley will continue. He heads up ICARE, Inyo County Animal Resources and Education. Schade and wife Lisa have created an organization that has vastly reduced animal euthanasias and has led to fund raising and inspiration that now manifests as a new animal shelter.
ICARE also includes a highly successful adoption program, spay and neuter program and other services aimed at better lives for our pets.
So, Ted Schade may not work from the frontline of environmental battle, but he has the chops to work privately from the sidelines and the heart to keep our animals safe. Stay tuned.