Below is an action alert to Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis. Please either copy and paste the alert into your email and send to BOTH Jewell and Jarvis (see emails below), or add your name to the alert and send as an attachment. BUT PLEASE SEND IT! Thank you.
Secretary of the Interior Jewell and National Park Service Director Jarvis, Halt Negotiations That Would Allow a Hydroelectric Plant to be Developed on the Doorstep of Joshua Tree National Park!
November 7, 2015 - Dear Secretary Jewell and Director Jarvis,
Joshua Tree National Park was established by Act of Congress in 1994 to preserve and protect the natural and cultural resources of the California Desert. With over 1.3 million visitors each year, two intact desert ecosystems meeting in a distinct transition zone, the resultant richness in biodiversity, thousands of years of cultural history, and vast areas of federally designated wilderness—including wilderness areas to the immediate north and south of the proposed project area—Joshua Tree National Park is one of the iconic parks in the National Park Service system.
For the last two decades, however, this national treasure has been threatened by an enormous garbage dump and a hydroelectric project that would devastate the park’s fragile desert ecosystem. The proposed Eagle Mountain dump was defeated by environmentalists who tenaciously fought the projects in Court all the way to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court refused to hear the Polluters case, remanded it back to the District Court where a Final Judgment was rendered on December 18, 2014.
Eagle Crest Energy (ECE) has proposed its Eagle Mountain Pumped Storage Project for an area immediately adjacent to Joshua Tree National Park. This project has been fought simultaneously with the dump. The Eagle Mountain Pumped Storage Project (proposed on the same land as the dump was) proposes to mine NINE BILLION gallons of groundwater from the Chuckwalla Basin aquifer, and deposit this water in two depleted mining pits in the former Eagle Mountain Mine in Riverside County, California. The water would flow downhill to the lower pit at times of peak energy demand, generating energy for sale and consumption. At times of non-peak demand, the water would be pumped uphill, back to the depleted mine pit that is higher in elevation. This project is proposed to occupy federal lands currently administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and private lands recently acquired from Kaiser Eagle Mountain, LLC.
Environmentalists and the DOI filed reconsideration motions with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) when it’s license was granted, but denied on October 15th. There is widespread opposition to this project due to its proximity and impacts to Joshua Tree and impacts to the Chuckwalla aquifer. See the Desert Sun editorial http://www.desertsun.com/story/opinion/editorials/2015/10/27/voice-eagle-mountain-ferc-ruling/74708160/
During a time when California is experiencing its worst drought in history, this project flies in the face of water conservation. Add to the equation that the US Geological Survey conducted studies in the Chuckwalla Basin Aquifer that shows that there has been no recharge of the aquifer and ages the water at tens of thousands of years. See http://pubs.usgs.gov/ds/659/ Groundwater Ambient Measurement Analysis
On September 25, 1950, Congress deleted 265,340 acres from Joshua Tree National Park by enacting Public Law 837. The President ordered a survey of minerals to “determine to what extent said area is more valuable for minerals than for National Monument purposes”. July 8, 1952 Congress enacted Private Law 790 (PL 790) granting certain rights-of-way and issuing patent to 460 acres of land to Kaiser Steel Corporation for campsite/millsite purposes. PL 790 included the expressed condition that “said property shall revert in fee to the United States in the event that said property is not used for a continuous period of seven years as a camp site or mill site or for other incidental purposes in connection with mining operations of said corporation or its successors in interest”. It was fully intended by Congress and the President that this land would go back to public ownership if not used for the purposes of which the Acts were created, “the development of the Steel industry on the West Coast” (Source: House Report No. 398 that accompany PL 790). The National Park Service is currently conducting a boundary study that hopefully will restore much of the lands in the Eagle Mountains back to Joshua Tree National Park, where it originated. But excludes the subject lands.
Clearly a hydroelectric project is not consistent with mining, and the subject lands need to be restored to Joshua Tree National Park. Secretary Jewell and Director Jarvis, we strongly encourage you to halt negotiations with ECE and challenge this project in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to protect Joshua Tree from an environmental disaster.
As you know, the Chuckwalla Valley is in the Eastern Riverside County Solar Energy Zone, and is being considered for over 120,000 acres of solar development for a 50 mile stretch of land spanning from Desert Center to Blythe (see Riverside East Solar Energy Zone). Impacts from these developments will adversely affect Joshua Tree. Now more than ever we need to balance the scales of industrialization with conservation. This is low hanging fruit.
Instead of DEFENDING Joshua Tree and halting this very real threat to our Majestic National Park, you are NEGOTIATING with Eagle Crest! The DOI must stand united against this assault, halt negotiations immediately, and exercise your right to defend Joshua Tree in 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Now more than ever we need to balance the scales of industrialization with conservation.
It is time to make Joshua Tree National Park whole again.