Perhaps they should rename it Great Basin Unified Air Pollution (and Litigation) Control District.
Representatives of Mammoth Community Water District (MCWD) and labor unions LIUNA (Laborers International Union of North America) and CURE (California Unions for Reliable Energy) appeared in court—in person or by telephone—on Thursday afternoon for three separate case management conferences in their lawsuits against Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District (Great Basin).
The lawsuits each contest that Great Basin certified an inadequate Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for Ormat’s Casa Diablo IV geothermal plant, and, in the case of MCWD, that the Casa Diablo IV project requires a more detailed monitoring and mitigation plan to avoid potential impacts to Mammoth’s groundwater supply.
MCWD attorney Alan Lilly said the Water District filed its lawsuit out of the desire to “get revisions to the project, primarily that would involve a much more detailed monitoring plan.”
These revisions would be achieved “either through an agreement [between MCWD and Ormat], or if there is no agreement, through Great Basin vacating its approval of the project EIR and requiring a more detailed EIR that analyzes the impact to groundwater pumping,” Lilly said.
Ormat attorney Jim Reed said that the Water District and Ormat—named a ‘real party of interest’ in the litigation—“will likely engage in serious settlement discussions. The two have legitimate interests in reaching a reasonable agreement acceptable to both.”
Reed had less positive things to say about the other two lawsuits, filed by LIUNA and CURE under the names of three Bishop residents, and a “Coalition for Responsible Mammoth Lakes Development.”
Reed and Lilly agreed no one had ever heard of the Coalition prior to the lawsuit.
“The Water District is a local entity with legitimate concerns,” said Reed. “The other two [LIUNA and CURE] sue all over the State all the time.”
LIUNA and CURE are infamous for “greenmailing” renewable energy developers in the hopes of holding up projects and forcing a negotiation with developers to employ union laborers.
LIUNA attempted this three years ago with Ormat over a replacement project at its existing geothermal plant. That lawsuit was settled locally in January in Ormat’s favor.
Reed said LIUNA is using “the same three plaintiffs [from the previous lawsuit]; three men from Bishop who claim to recreate at or near the geothermal plant. They claimed in the last lawsuit that the air they breathe will be contaminated by the geothermal plan, which is strange, considering that geothermal operations have been on-going here for 30 years. Other than bare allegations, LIUNA offered no proof of adverse health effects to its members.”
Meanwhile the CURE lawsuit, which names the mysterious “Coalition for Responsible Mammoth Lakes Development,” “claims the two individuals who are part of the lawsuit travel to and recreate in Mono County, but it does not say they live here,” Reed said. “They claim they will be adversely affected if the [Great Basin] Air District doesn’t redo its EIR on the Casa Diablo IV geothermal project.”
According to Reed, “LIUNA and CURE’s attorneys have informed us that they will settle if Great Basin retracts its certification of the EIR … We said, Jeez, no thanks.”
On Thursday, each party agreed to a schedule for filing briefs, and page limit for said briefs. Reed said he did not know when the parties would again go before the judge.