There is a fair amount of press right now concerning Inyo County’s plan to address renewable energy development. Much of that press – like right here – is on the internet, where the world of comment sections has become nearly as ubiquitous as the news stories themselves. Comments can be a valuable way for community members to join the conversation, as many have done right here at Deepest Valley and on other local sites.

Some of the comments have been in support of industrial solar development, and some have been directed at those who oppose it. In an effort to address some of those concerns, We’ve collected a handful of comments from around the web to address here on our site. Since the comments are public, but not necessarily the names of their authors, we won’t publish names or online pseudonyms to respect the privacy of those posting. The comments are below in italics, and responses from Deepest Valley editor Bryan Curt Kostors follow:

The “viewshed” arguments are vapid and emotional. The Owens Valley has not been pristine for decades and yet people still see it that way.

You’ll find many parts of Inyo County are quite pristine, if you get out and visit them. The arguments from Deepest Valley editors like myself are not emotional, as they focus on the logic and reasoning behind issues; saying one viewshed is “better” than another is abstract and emotional, which is why it has no place is determining governmental policy. (I happen to believe all the views in Inyo are equally important, but I don’t base my arguments on that.) Unfortunately for the soundness of the REGPA, it actually does make determinations about which viewsheds are subjectively better than others, such as the one that claims the view of the western side of Highway 395 is somehow more valuable than that of the eastern side (even though when you hike to the top of the mountains on the western side you have no choice but to look at the view of the eastern side). As I have stated in other writings, this points to the numerous flaws in the document.

Most of the people raising a fuss haven’t bothered to install solar themselves, yet they go on and on about rooftop solar being the answer.

This argument presents a basic logical fallacy, as it claims that because someone hasn’t done a given action, that action is therefore invalid. The obviousness of this argument’s flaws can be seen when the same parameters are used with different criteria: “Most of the people raising a fuss about curing cancer haven’t bothered to get cancer, yet they go on and on about the importance of curing it.” This is by far the worst argument against point-of-use solar installations.

Solar farms will not make or break Inyo County. It will still be a beautiful place.

Again, policy can’t be made based on pathos alone, and trying to decide what is beautiful and what is not will always be a changing and shifting topic. I, and Deepest Valley, happen to think that the beauty of Inyo County will be negatively impacted by industrial solar, and so we are acting towards avoiding that, but our arguments focus on creating a plan that is actually sound and implements renewable energy in a more appropriate way. All arguments aside, I believe the goal of retaining all the beauty we can is a valuable and worthy cause.

Yeah who needs jobs in into[sic] county? If it messes up the ambiance of a concentration camp on the border of a dry, dusty shit lake than not me!

Many people need jobs. With any cursory look into the process of industrial solar, it’s easily seen that jobs offered by it are limited, and exist on a temporary timeline. Deepest Valley prefers permanent jobs for Inyo County, like ones that would come with a rooftop solar scenario where local companies provide continued maintenance and support, and local companies and their employees are used to install and service panels, just as any other system (gas, electrical, heating, fiber-optics, etc.) in your home requires. We also believe that the cultural and historical importance of the “concentration camp on the border of a dry, dusty shit lake” is a central element of the story of Inyo. We are also aware that Manzanar does not actually sit on the border of a dry lake, as any map will show.

Heaven forbid we put solar generation facilities where it makes the most sense when it outrages 12 people and kill a couple of birds.

Based on the available research that shows the generating potential of rooftop and pre-disturbed solar sites, and the accelerated pace at which their technological effectiveness is surpassing that of large-scale solar farms, the logical conclusion is that industrial generating facilities in Inyo County, which require transmission lines that lose power, do not make the most sense by quite a measurable stretch. As of this writing, the current petition to protect Inyo County has nearly 800 signatures, and our Facebook page has nearly 500 followers. This, obviously, is a fair amount more than 12 people. The amount of birds killed by industrial solar is hard to track for many reasons, but the numbers are most certainly higher than a couple. They are high enough, in fact, that the federal government has passed provisions allowing industrial solar and wind operations to legally kill a certain amount of birds (including hawks and bald eagles) per year as part of their general practices.

Once again the demands of the few try to control the many….. time to climb out from that rock and get into this century

As was mentioned, the numbers in support of conservation can’t really be called “the few” any longer. We are also not attempting to control anything; we want to be part of creating a better plan that address the current challenges we face in Inyo County appropriately. This type of involvement, after all, is the core element of government in our country. And concerning which is the appropriate century, it’s becoming more and more obvious that industrial-scale solar is an overwhelmingly 20th-century technology. Getting “into this century” is exactly what we are trying to help the Planning Department and Inyo County do by avoiding it.

8 Responses

  1. N. L. Fogelstrom

    Absolutely the right thing….also honorable….. You should make it possible to listen to the majority of those that live in the Owens Valley, with an open mind….
    .

    Reply
  2. Nancy Bright Masters

    I would like to further counter the argument that Owens Valley is not pristine and therefore should have destructive solar and wind industrialization imposed upon it. Both Death Valley and Yosemite Valley had been subject to human activity before they were elevated into a National Monument and Park. Death Valley was a significant source of borax and Greenwater Ranch (Furnace Creek Ranch) grew dates. The Yosemite Valley was managed for centuries by Native Americans, and the valley floor was homesteaded for a time. Like Yosemite and Death Valley, the Owens is a working landscape. And like Yosemite and Death Valley, the Owens Valley could be a National Park, it is so beautiful. Obviously, something will need to be done to protect the Owens Valley on an ongoing basis or this will be a continuous battle. It’s time to bring back the Conservation Easement that was proposed by LADWP ten years ago. It will protect ranchers and people who enjoy using DWP lands, but prevent the kind of wholesale destruction that enormous solar sites bring.

    Reply
  3. David Rosky

    Mostly good responses, but I disagree with the author on one point. I’ll start by saying I’m against this project and completely in favor of rooftop solar, but the comment which reads “Most of the people raising a fuss haven’t bothered to install solar themselves, yet they go on and on about rooftop solar being the answer” is perfectly valid and most certainly not a fallacy. The comparison to cancer is not valid. Cancer is something undesirable and something to avoid, whereas rooftop solar is something desirable and that makes them logically unrelated. A more accurate analogy would be me telling all my neighbors they should use low flush toilets while I go on using my old 5-gallon flusher. We don’t have any place telling others they should purchase/install rooftop solar unless we are going to do so ourselves. It’s a case of “put your money where your mouth is”, or “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander”, and so on.

    Reply
    • Bryan Curt Kostors
      Bryan Curt Kostors

      I believe the statement would be a type of argument from ignorance. My point is not that rooftop solar and cancer are equal, nor do I actually make any judgement about the importance or preference of either; my point was to use the same argumentative parameters with different criteria to expose the poor argument. By avoiding the involvement of what we deem “good” or “bad” – a highly subjective matter – I try and focus strictly on the argument itself.

      Also, thank you David for reading and for supporting the cause of protecting Inyo County! I really do appreciate your input and concern.

      Reply
      • David Rosky

        OK. Yes, I agree that the comment isn’t a valid argument for or against the project itself; however, I think we just have to be careful not to appear that we’re asking others to do something we are not actively doing ourselves. I’m actually a little concerned that focusing too much on residential rooftop solar is to some degree barking up the wrong tree. The problem with residential solar is not in its feasibility, but in the fact that it is dependent on the decisions of millions of individual roof owners who cannot be forced to do it on someone else’s timescale. Even a short drive through an average neighborhood in LA will tell you that it may be after most of our lifetimes before even 50% of the residential rooftops are covered. I believe we should be focusing more on the use of public and large private open spaces and previously disturbed lands closer to LA, and perhaps large institutional rooftops. Pushing too hard on residential rooftop solar will leave us open to these kinds of arguments and claims of being hypocritical. Also, and I should have said in the beginning, thanks to all of you who have the time to be putting a major effort into this!

      • Vickie

        The argument is not based on ignorance but logic. if a person points to another and says “you should produce your own power closer to where you live” while continuing to purchase power produced elsewhere (and likely produced by the burning of natural gas or coal) without making the same commitment to providing, at the very least, for his or her own consumption, what makes that argument valid or smart or sustainable? It is ignorance to ignore our place in the larger picture. We’re not an island in the eastern Sierra, and at the very minimum should be planning enough renewable energy projects to cover our own power needs if not to contribute to a larger shift in California and the West from natural gas and coal to renewable energy sources.

      • Bryan Curt Kostors
        Bryan Curt Kostors

        As I mentioned, argumentum ad ignorantiam, as described by Aristotelean logic, sets the parameters but not the criteria of the argument. My point was to focus on the argument itself and it’s flaws, which in a debate invalidates the argument. This has nothing to do with the terms of the argument – I agree that more people should take the initiative to install rooftop solar, if they can (and also believe the focus of local governments should be making it easier and incentivizing that process) – and only focuses on the argument itself. Maybe it was a mistake to focus on the logical specifics; I carry the belief, however, that this focus is the only way to appropriately handle political discourse, as it foregoes any involvement of what we think is “good or bad” or what “should or should not” be done. In other words: opinion.

  4. Paul Fretheim

    Those negative comments were so stupid they provided their own negation.

    Reply

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