PALMDALE – The city of Palmdale has again taken issue with public comments made by Lancaster city officials. This time, the issue involves the Palmdale Hybrid Power Plant. In a press release issued Thursday (June 20), Palmdale officials said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris and council member Marvin Crist made several “unsubstantiated claims” regarding the power plant at a board meeting last month for the local air quality management district. Read the full press release below:
Fact vs. Fiction, Part 2- Correcting Misinformation Coming from Lancaster Officials Regarding the Palmdale Power Plant
R. Rex Parris and Marvin Crist have recently made a number of unsubstantiated claims regarding the Palmdale Power Plant at the May 21 Antelope Valley Air Quality Management District (AVAQMD) where they stated that the project would kill children and minorities.
In front of the AVQMD Board and a room packed full of project supporters including local union members, Crist repeatedly referred to the killing of children with absurd statements such as, “what do we get for it (the power plant)? 35 jobs? And you’re killing our kids on the soccer fields….You’re talking hundreds of tons of pollutants that’s killing our kids…. You’re not going to kill our kids for 35 jobs….. My position is we can do better. I don’t want 35 jobs. I want 1,000 jobs.”
“This is clearly a red herring tossed out there by Mr. Crist,” said Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford. “If Mr. Crist is so convinced about the potential health effects on children, why is he willing to barter that for 1,000 jobs?”
Contrary to Crist’s allegations, the California Energy Commission (CEC) stated in its Commission Decision on the Palmdale Power Plant issued in Aug. 2011 “the Conditions of Certification also assure that the project will neither result in, nor contribute substantially to, any significant direct, indirect, or cumulative adverse environmental impacts.” (CEC Commission Decision, Findings, Page 1.)
In approving the permit, Jared Blumenfeld, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest Region called Palmdale’s power plant “a model for new electric power plants across the nation.”
“It certainly does not sound like a child killing machine as promoted by Crist,” Ledford said.
At the same meeting, Parris claimed that Palmdale selected a site for the project “so that all of the pollution—all of it—goes to the east side where the minority community lives. That’s where the minorities live in this community—everybody knows that….How many children are we going to sacrifice so that how many local people can have a job? For a very short period of time?…Do you really want to trade 12 months of employment for the death of people?”…It could have been placed on the east side of Palmdale.”
In fact, the Palmdale Power Plant will be located in an industrial area on a parcel of land that is in north central Palmdale that is on the west side of Plant 42. The land was purchased from Lockheed Corporation for the power plant in March 2007.
In its Final Decision, the CEC reported in the Project Alternative section which evaluated locations for the project that “based on the totality of the record and as reflected in our findings for each of the technical topics, the mitigated PHPP will not result in any significant adverse effects on the environment.” (CEC Commission Decision, Project Alternatives, Page 3-1.)
“We chose the location for a number of reasons,” said Palmdale Public Works Director Mike Mischel. “It is in an industrial location away from homes and would not cause disruption to local residents. It has reasonable proximity to water, gas lines and power line transmission. We did not have to use eminent domain, which is very unusual in a project this size. The City explored several potential locations, including a site in east Palmdale and determined that the current location in central Palmdale was best. The CEC agreed.”
According to the CEC’s Final Decision, “Applicant and Staff evaluated three alternative sites located in Palmdale and determined there would be no appreciable advantages to using either site over the proposed PHPP site. “Of the alternative sites, two of the alternative sites were found to be infeasible. The third alternative site, which would be east of Plant 42, was found to have greater environmental impacts to biological resources, the linears would be longer, and there would be increased visual impacts.” (CEC Commission Decision, Project Alternatives, Page 3-8.)
In addition, the CEC’s Final Decision also included a study of the plant’s impact to the social and economic structure within the project vicinity and region resulting from the construction and operation of the project. The CEC stated, “In light of our finding that all PHPP significant impacts are mitigated below significance, we find the PHPP will not cause or contribute to disproportionate impacts upon minority or low income populations….We therefore conclude that the project construction and operation activities will create some degree of benefit to the local area and will conform to principles of environmental justice.” (CEC Commission Decision, Socioeconomics, Pages 8.3-8 and 3-10.)
Just today, as reported in the Antelope Valley Press, Parris made these additional unsubstantiated remarks: Parris said, “If he (Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford) wants to send polluted air over our soccer fields, grammar schools and high schools, I’m going to stop it.”
“His continual misstating of the facts is disturbing,” Ledford said. “The myth of a mystery cloud of pollution that somehow travels to soccer fields and schools is unsubstantiated by the facts brought forth by the CEC and EPA. Virtually all of the emissions would dissipate before leaving the power plant property and the City limits of Palmdale. Presentations made by the AVAQMD to its board have proven this reality. The truth is that this project is in full compliance with all health and air quality regulations, which in California, by the way, are the highest standards in the world.”
“In light of such statements by the EPA, CEC and the stringent environmental review process, the reckless sort of misinformation campaign by Parris and Crist sends a bad message to businesses that may be looking to relocate to the Antelope Valley,” said Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford. “This does nothing but hurt the Antelope Valley’s reputation as a business friendly region. Clearly the benefits of this power plant are overwhelming,” Ledford said. “In addition to up to 800 jobs for up to 3 years, 35 permanent jobs at the plant itself and dozens of support jobs, it will infuse an estimated $5 million into the local economy each year. We have undergone an extensive and painstaking approval process that has met the extremely high standards of both the CEC and EPA. We have been totally transparent since day one with this project, presenting it in meetings all across the AV, including two Lancaster’s City Council meetings. Instead of attempting to mislead people with fear mongering, perhaps if they would take the time to read the documentation they would become educated instead of misinformed on the project.”
For more information on the Palmdale Power Plant, please visit http://www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/palmdale/.
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