Thursday, November 4, 2010

Open letter to the Sovereign Indian Nations of Southern California and Arizona regarding runaway energy development and the future of the Mojave.

To the tribal chairmen, tribal councils, executive committees and other governmental authorities
and to the people of the sovereign Indian Nations; the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, the Agua
Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, the Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians, the 29 Palms Band of Mission Indians, the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, the Morongo Band
of Mission Indians, the Quechan Indian Tribe, the Chemehuevi Indian tribe, the Pascua Yaqui tribe and
the other sovereign Indian tribes of southern California and Arizona.

Esteemed chairmen, council members, and others:

I write you today unsolicited regarding the fate of our Mojave Desert which as all of you know is in the
crosshairs of a modern gold rush of renewable energy development brought on by the federal govern-
ment primarily due to its’ tax policies.

But first, if I may,let me say that I have only been a blogger since January of this year, and in the short time that I
have been on the net, discovered that it seems that no matter what any of us may think about it, as far
as the state and federal governments are concerned, they are going to build these mega sized power
projects on federal land, with or without anyone’s consent. They have put in place a fast tracked system
of regulatory approvals, ostensibly complying with CEPA and NEPA, while in actuality, in my opinion
and others as well, have created what in effect is a kangaroo court without hope of appeal from the decision.

As I have pointed out many times on my blog, the major environmental groups such as the Sierra Club or
the NRDC, just to name a couple, normally would by a threat of an environmental lawsuit brought in a
federal court, serve as a much needed “check and balance” to the system and to ensure its’ fairness.
However, as I also have pointed out often, certain highly placed individuals from those groups serve on
the RETI Steering Committee among others, and have had a hand in this approval process from the
beginning and all the way to fruition today, with the bulldozers blading. As a consequence, those groups
they belong to are sitting on the sidelines now, giving tacit and dare I say implicit approval to events
that are now unfolding as I write this.

Unfortunately  the renewable energy crowd has run into a problem. The Quechan Indian Tribe objects
to having their history, cultural, and biological resources obliterated by this unfair and frankly in my opinion, illegal rubber stamp approval process. They have brought forth a lawsuit in federal court to try to stop
the destruction.

I wish them good luck and godspeed with their case which will decide their fate as a sovereign nation. How
can you exist as a people when all of your cultural history has just been wiped out by the bulldozers and
eathmovers?

I wish to point out out that they are not the only ones located in the path of energy development and of
this one sided, and rigged from the beginning process.

So what can be done about this by people of good will?

Recently I have posted on this subject, and here is a brief analysis of the situation as I see it.

The election has devastated the democratic hold on the Congress, and weakening this very pro- renewable
energy president and his administration. It has also severely clipped the wings of another strong renewable
energy promoter, Senator Harry Reid. Several members of the republican majority are already on record
against these projects, and many doubt the existence of global warming and/or climate change. These same
representatives, of course, strongly support and take contributions from the fossil fuel industry.

But there is still the matter of the fast tracked projects already approved. The Imperial project, as you are no doubt aware, is not the only one that will devastate cultural and sacred sites, Blythe and Ivanpah will as well. It is clear that calls for help will not be heeded by the CEC and the DOIBLM, the architects of these
processes; those calls will fall on deaf ears.

I propose that the only way to handle those desecrations will be through the court system. Don’t count on
help from the mainstream environmental groups, I doubt they would be interested. Only time will tell if you
will prevail, I sincerely hope so.

But what do we do about future energy development, are the Mojave and other deserts and wilderness always going to be first in line? What about other approaches? What about distributed local power
generation, a proven and now, per some analysts, cheaper alternative to the large scale solar and wind plants way out in the pristine wilderness?

It is clear to me that change will not come from any quarter fast enough. The grassroots activists of the
major environmental groups are not in the position to force a change, nor are their groups willing to sue
to force change, the legislature controlled by the energy interests is not the answer- what can we do to
try to force a change on our government, and to show them that the people are the boss?

I propose that we do something that your sovereign nations did in previous elections; that we take this
directly to the voters for their judgment, via the initiative process. Recently I did a post on this very idea,
I sat down and typed out a rough draft of an initiative, remember I am a bus driver, not a lawyer and this
is the result:

“It is the will of the California voters that in order to forestall the effects
of global warming and climate change that forthwith, and without any
delay or obfuscation, and in order to obtain renewable energy for its’ portfolio,
that the first priority will be developing distributed solar power through existing
rooftops, both commercial and residential.

In conjunction with this, any further large scale solar and wind projects,
shall be built out first close in to the endusers, and must be built on used,
disturbed, degraded land as defined by applicable codes and laws. This
can be accomplished by following the DRECP Report recommendations on
file with the California Energy Commission.

Any added transmission lines or capacity shall be planned with a meticulous
following of the DRECP Report, in both letter and in spirit.

Further, it is the will of the people that further renewable energy development will
not be allowed on any public land, that results in damage or danger to any
plant or animal on the state or federal endangered species lists, or is considered
sacred to native americans and others. Projects that are in development will
be reconsidered on a case by case basis, and subject to a revocation of licensing
from the California Energy Commission.

It is the will of the people and it is their judgment that pristine wilderness habitat
and spaces are a priceless natural treasure belonging to all Californians and will
be protected without concern to cost into perpetuity, so say the people on this
day, November 2, 2010.”

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I am bringing this proposal to you for your attention because your nations
will be affected more than
most, you have had winning experience with the process and will bring a certain moral authority
that is sadly lacking in Sacramento and Washington, and yes, you may be in a position to provide
financial support for the effort. This will require an army of people willing to ask for voter’s signatures,
I suspect there are many activists such as myself that would be happy to get involved, I would work
for free in my spare time to get this done and on the ballot.

In my post on this subject, I pointed out that we need to offer an alternative and the way to sell it
to the voters is JOBS. It is an undisputed fact that installing the tens of millions of rooftops, both
home and business, here just in California would provide way more jobs than a remote large
power plant; from truckdrivers to backoffice to warehouse to technicians- you name it, they’ll be
needed. And side benefits are that the wilderness and tribal areas will be saved from development
as well as the endangered and sacred plant and animal species. Another benefit will be the empowerment
of the people and the tribes, in energy matters at least, vs. the utility companies and the state
bureaucracy.

There are other sources for help with the logistics and funding as well. The photovoltaic solar industry,
if I may hazard a guess would jump on the bandwagon pretty quickly, it is totally to their self interest
to do so. The construction industry decimated by the housing collapse and seeing the handwriting on the wall regarding the future of concentrated solar, would rush to help.

A potential fly in the ointment is a natural tendency to want to kick back and see how things play out in
Washington and Sacramento. Need I remind you that a few of these projects have received approvals
already from the treasury department for the ARRA Stimulus funding and no one really knows if the
program will be extended or not? Never underestimate the ability of the political class to massage the
pockets of big donors, and then to defy common sense and approve something.

The beauty of this idea is that the people will take ownership of their and the Mojave’s destinies, and not
leave it to chance or crass politicking and back room dealings. I feel it is an idea that deserves talking about and looking into.

I hope that a review of my blog will show that above all, I have tried to be a friend of the Mojave and of
wilderness in general. I also have always tried to be a friend of native americans as well. I am very aware
that there are many experts out there in these fields that can do much better than I, my reward will be the
knowledge that I will possess, that I did what I could, when I could, and as best as I could to try to save this
last wonderful place and its’ inhabitants, from I what I fear is its’ inevitable total industrialization and fragmentation, all in a short sided desire to save the environment by what I hope are well meaning advocates against climate change, who without knowing, are in effect saying, we must destroy the
environment in order to save it.

Thank you for reading this and for considering these proposals,

William C. Mcdonald
Morongobill
Buena Park, California


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