W.A.T.E.R. Challenges CG EIR
On December 12, 2017 the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors certified the flawed and incomplete Environmental Impact Report (EIR) of the Crystal Geyser beverage bottling project in Mount Shasta, CA. On January 11, 2018 We Advocate Thorough Environmental Review (W.A.T.E.R.) and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe jointly filed a Petition for a Writ of Mandate (Case SCCV-CVPT-2018-41-4) in Siskiyou County Superior Court to require Siskiyou County to “to set aside their approval of the Project and certification of the EIR.”
The Petition states: “In approving the Project as described herein, Respondent County prejudicially abused its discretion in violation of CEQA … because the County certified an EIR that fails to include information necessary for informed decision making and informed public participation, including information necessary to reach informed conclusions regarding the significance of the Project’s environmental impacts, the effectiveness of mitigation measures to avoid the Project’s significant environmental impacts, or feasibility of mitigation measures to reduce the Project’s significant environmental impacts; because the EIR fails to lawfully assess the Project’s cumulative effects; because the EIR fails to use the best available information and/or accepted methodology for analyzing information; because the Final EIR fails to provide good faith responses to comments on the Draft EIR; because the County failed and refused to provide a stable, finite Project description by obscuring the fact that the only authority the County has over any aspect of Crystal Geyser’s activities relates to the caretaker’s residence Permit only; because, with respect to the findings required by CEQA, the County failed to make required findings, failed to support the findings with substantial evidence, and failed to disclose the analytic route showing how the evidence supports the findings.” (paragraph 36)
The Petition also argues that the County failed to complete AB52 consultation with the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. The Petition states: “In addition to improper termination of the consultation, the deficiencies of the Project description did not allow meaningful and comprehensive AB 52 consultation because there is no upper limit on the volume of water that will be extracted by Crystal Geyser, and the County asserts that it has no authority to limit the extraction amounts. Only after the Project description is corrected will the Tribe and the County be able to consult on the significance of adverse effects, mitigation measures and/or Project alternatives.” (paragraph 44)
Moreover the Petition alleges that the EIR includes impermissibly narrow project objectives, specifically “meeting market demand”, without ever explaining the urgency of such demands. 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. The Petition also explains how impacts on hydrology and ground water were incorrectly modeled. These “estimations” from modeling would be completely dependent on the specific groundwater pumping, which the County approved with no caps or regulation. The EIR’s impacts analysis is also deficient on numerous issues including air quality and associated health risks, aesthetics, noise, lighting, green house gas emissions and traffic.
For over four years W.A.T.E.R. and many others have been fighting for an effective EIR on the Crystal Geyser project. For over two of those years, the County argued that NO EIR at all would be required. When finally confronted with the fact that the facility would not be able to obtain any of its needed permits for wastewater treatment or air quality without an EIR, the County produced an EIR filled with errors and omissions. W.A.T.E.R. in conjunction with the Winnemem Wintu Tribe is dedicated to fighting to ensure that if this project is to continue it MUST NOT damage our wonderful mountain environment. We have been inspired by the outpouring of support on this issue from our Community both local and throughout the country, from the hundreds of comments submitted during the EIR hearings to the generous donations to our fundraising. We have raised tens of thousands of dollars from our many supporters and have received generous grant donations from Patagonia, Lush Cosmetics’ Charity Pot, the Rose Foundation, RESIST, The Story of Stuff and the Patricia L. Kimball and David T. Kimball Fund. These funds make our legal efforts possible.
You can see the complete Petition HERE.