Supervisors Delay Crystal Geyser Decision
On Thursday, November 16 the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors held a hearing on the appeal filed by W.A.T.E.R., the Gateway Neighborhood Association and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe by our attorney, Marsha Burch, challenging the approval of the Crystal Geyser EIR. The Board of Supervisors and county counsel heard presentations from 9AM to 5PM given by County Staff, Crystal Geyser representatives, our lawyer Marsha Burch, consultants, both supportive and critical of the current EIR, and numerous public comments. At the conclusion of this long day the Board voted to continue the item to December 12th at 1:30 p.m. after closing the public hearing so no further comments will be taken. The many powerful arguments given by our lawyer Marsha Burch caused the Supervisors to delay a decision until they could study the issues further. They requested that staff return prepared to answer their questions on several key aspects of the project. Crystal Geyser executives and representatives appeared to be surprised by the delay.
Marsha Burch, arguing for the appeal, outlined how the mitigation measures put forth in the EIR were not enforceable as required by CEQA, since the only authority the County claims over the project is the permit for a “caretaker’s residence” which is not event habitable full time because of pollution amounts at the plant site. She also argued that The County failed to complete consultation with the Winnemem Wintu Tribe under AB52 and the EIR contains an inaccurate project description. Marsha explained that the EIR includes impermissibly narrow project objectives, specifically “meeting market demand”, without ever explaining the urgency of such demands. Marsha wrote in her appeal letter: “The vague ‘objective‘ to assist Crystal Geyser in raising its bottom line is not an appropriate basis for dismissing feasible alternatives that would reduce the Project’s impacts”. Marsha and Dan Axelrod also explained how impacts on hydrology and ground water were incorrectly modeled and would be dependent on the amount of unregulated groundwater pumping. She concluded by establishing how the EIR’s impacts analysis is deficient on numerous issues including air quality and associated health risks, aesthetics, noise, lighting, green house gas emissions and traffic. You can see the complete appeal submission HERE for more details.
Most speakers during public comments were in favor of the Appeal and opposed approval of the flawed EIR. They addressed concerns over effects on local wells, poorly conducted hydrology studies, inadequate noise, air quality and traffic studies, plastic pollution, green house gas emissions and aesthetics. Eleanor Kennedy, owner of Cold Creek Inn, described observing changes in tourism over the years from hunting and fishing to eco and spiritual tourism and how this project could negatively impact business with its increase in traffic, noise, light and both air and groundwater pollution.
W.A.T.E.R. urges the community to stay vigilant and involved. We will notify you about details of the December 12 meeting as they become available. Our activism has so far resulted in a few good changes in the EIR around nighttime truck traffic and plant noise, but much more needs to be done.