Environmental Lawyers Make Long Trek to Mono County to Block Geothermal Energy Projects so Unions Can Get a Project Labor Agreement

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UPDATE: On December 14, 2012, Laborers Union (LIUNA) Local No. 783 (with the jurisdiction of San Bernardino, Mono, and Inyo Counties) filed a lawsuit (Concerned Bishop Residents v. County of Mono) in Mono County Superior Court claiming that the Mono County Board of Supervisors violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) when it approved Ormat Technologies‘ replacement project for the Mammoth Pacific Unit 1 geothermal power plant.

The union filed the lawsuit with four individuals under the name “Concerned Bishop Residents.” The lawsuit notes that Laborers Union members “regularly travel to the Mammoth Lakes area of Mono County to enjoy its peaceful repose.” I’m sure they would also enjoy travel to the Mammoth Lakes area of Mono County to enjoy a union work monopoly under a Project Labor Agreement.

Latest News Coverage:

Union Advocacy Group Sues Over Geothermal Plant Project – Mammoth Times – January 11, 2013

More Time to Comment on New Geothermal Plant ProposalMammoth Times – January 11, 2013 (related to Casa Diablo IV proposed plant, includes references to union CEQA challenges to Ormat Technology’s Mammoth Pacific 1 replacement project)


The Mono County Board of Supervisors is not yet on my California Local Government Logbook, but the lawyers of Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo have it on theirs. They went to a November 13, 2012 Board of Supervisors meeting (as well as an October 22, 2012 Mono County Planning Commission meeting) on behalf of California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE) to object under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to construction permits given to Ormat Technologies (based in Reno, Nevada) for proposed power plant construction and upgrades within the Casa Diablo Geothermal Complex.

And the county supervisors know their racket.

Here are some excerpts from an article in the November 16, 2012 Mammoth Times entitled County Give Thumbs Up to Geothermal Plant Expansion. The local reporter covering the story totally understands what’s going on, unlike some of the reporters in the big city papers who cover state and local government approval of proposed power plants.

The Mono County Board of Supervisors soundly rejected an appeal of a plan to expand the Casa Diablo geothermal plant Tuesday, after two out of area (mostly) union advocacy groups appealed the project during an almost five-hour public hearing. It’s the second time the groups have been in Mono County in the past few months. On Oct. 22, the county planning commission approved the project and recommended it to the county supervisors for approval. The groups filed an appeal shortly after and on Tuesday, they came armed for a fight. They got one…

It was supposed to have been a routine expansion, and it moved through the past several years with very little controversy – until several non-local groups, claiming to be unionized renewable energy plant workers, objected. These out-of-area groups claimed they were concerned for the environment and dumping hundreds of pages of said objections into the mandated state environmental review document process.

But research by the county and the MT shows the groups have used the same techniques before at other planned renewable energy power facilities, with the seeming intent to pressure applicants into using unionized workers, and they didn’t, they’d face more costly delays…

Other newspaper articles have stated that the same groups also tried the same tactic with a proposed geothermal plant in Imperial County this week – and were blocked by the county supervisors…

Calls to CURE were not returned before press time.

They will never call back; their response will come in the courts. Here are the agenda items from the November 13, 2012 meeting of the Mono County Board of Supervisors:

10a) PUBLIC HEARING 2:30 p.m. 60 minutes

California Unions for Responsible Energy appeal of the Planning Commission approval of the Mammoth Pacific I Replacement Project

Planning Commission approval of Conditional Use Permit No. 12-004 and Final Environmental Impact Report for the Mammoth Pacific I Replacement Project filed by California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE).

(Courtney Weiche) – Public hearing regarding appeal of Planning Commission approval of Conditional Use Permit No. 12-004 and Final Environmental Impact Report for the Mammoth Pacific I Replacement Project filed by California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE).

Staff Report to Mono County Board of Supervisors on CURE Appeal

Recommended Action: Conduct a public hearing to receive all relevant information in considering the appeal filed by CURE and either affirm, affirm in part (i.e., modify), or reverse the Planning Commission’s actions. If the Board affirms, or affirms in part, the Planning Commission’s actions, then it should: Adopt “Resolution Denying Appeal of CUP 12-004 and FEIR Adoption for the Mammoth Pacific Replacement Project Filed by California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE); Certifying and Adopting the FEIR for the Project; and Affirming the Planning Commission’s Approval of CUP 12-004.

Fiscal Impact: The cost of the appeal is being borne by the applicant.

Additional Departments: Economic Development

10b) PUBLIC HEARING 60 minutes

Laborers Int’l Union of North America appeal of Planning Commission’s approval of Mammoth Pacific I Replacement Project

(Courtney Weiche) – Public hearing regarding appeal of the Planning Commission approval of the Final Environmental Impact Report, Clarifying General Plan Amendment 12-003(b) [sic], Conditional Use Permit 12-004, Variance 12-002, Reclamation Plan 12-001, and Notice of Decision for the Mammoth Pacific Replacement Project filed by Laborers International Union of North America, Local 783 (LIUNA).

The LIUNA appeal, too large to attach with the packet can be viewed by going to Laborers Union Appeal.

Recommended Action: Conduct a public hearing to receive all relevant information in considering the appeal filed by LIUNA and either affirm, affirm in part (i.e., modify), or reverse the Planning Commission’s actions.

If the Board affirms, or affirms in part, the Planning Commission’s actions, then it should: Adopt the “Resolution Denying Appeal of Planning Commission Approval of CUP 12-004, Variance 12-002, Reclamation Plan 12-001, FEIR Findings and Adoption, Notice of Determination and General Plan Amendment [sic] for the Mammoth Pacific Replacement Project Filed by Laborers International Union of North America, Local 783 (LIUNA); Certifying and Adopting the FEIR for the Project; and Affirming the Planning Commission’s Project Approvals.”

Fiscal Impact: All costs associated with appeal are borne by the applicant.

See a copy of the California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE) appeal to the Mono County Community Development Department Planning Division – Mammoth Pacific 1 Replacement.

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  1. […] I reported in my blog post Environmental Lawyers Make Long Trek to Mono County to Block Geothermal Energy Projects so Unions Ca…, California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE) and the Laborers Union (LIUNA) Local No. […]