Fire Fee Malfeasance
The malfeasance of the state in their new $150 wildland fire protection “fee” has no better example than the fire started near Yosemite on August 25 by a motorhome. Our local mountains will host over 4 million visitors to Yosemite this year, generating billions in revenue, and significant tax revenue for the state. Fire protection for California’s mountains benefits the whole state, yet fires are often caused from those outside the mountains. Why should we have to pay extra for fighting fires such as the August 25 motorhome fire when it was not the fault of mountain residents?
The fact is that this “fee” is an unconstitutional tax put on the backs of the already economically depressed rural areas of California by urban legislatures who think we lack the will to oppose it. Basically they think we’re a bunch of suckers that will roll over and give them more money to play with in Sacramento. I hope we can prove them wrong.
Missing the mark
The Sheet’s Aug. 26 article, “Enviros Fight Renewables,” missed the mark. The Center for Biological Diversity strongly supports renewable energy because it is a key to energy independence and transitioning away from fossil fuels, but only when it’s truly sustainable. Inyo County’s half-hearted attempt to comply with California’s environmental review laws in its renewable energy “General Plan Amendment” would have set a poor precedent. Instead of supporting good renewable development in the county, the GPA would have increased conflict by actively directing development into areas that include pristine natural habitats, endangered species and important cultural resources. If the county had done even a cursory environmental review (or read our detailed comment letter submitted in the public review process) they would have found that many of the areas identified in the “overlay” zones included sensitive resources and water conflicts that make those areas unsuitable for renewable energy development. Fortunately, the county has another shot at this. The governor just signed a bill that provides millions of dollars to counties to thoroughly think through renewable energy development and make sure it’s done the right way. Inyo County has the opportunity to build off the early work done for the GPA, using additional funding from the state, to come up with a truly sustainable plan for the county – a plan that gives us important new sources of cleaner energy without sacrificing endangered species or pristine natural landscapes.
Biologist/Public Lands Desert Director
Center for Biological Diversity