Dear Supervisors,

I was happy to participate in the proposed changes to the General Plan for Inyo County. I am disappointed that the proposed General Plan does not reflect what I’ve heard residents and business owners express, which is, that what is most valuable about our Inyo County is that most of it is wild and pristine.

I own and operate Tecopa Hot Springs Resort. I’ve been exploring Inyo County regularly for more than 35 years. I maintain that before I started restoring Tecopa Hot Springs Resort in 2001 and moved here full time in 2005, that my sojourns into these wilds are what kept me sane living in an ever growing, sprawling Los Angeles. My family came to the Los Angeles Basin when it was wild and it pains me to see have developed so densely. I have no regrets leaving the city, in fact I fall more in love with this place everyday. And I love sharing it. I have guided many urban folk in to our wilds over the last decades. My whole business is about helping people relax and feel comfortable enjoying the silence, the vastness, and discover a varied and wondrous wildlife and glorious night sky.

While big solar and wind projects might sound green, they are not. While subsidies and mitigation monies might solve current fiscal shortfalls, it’s only for a short time 20 – 30 years and then what? We will have lost likely forever what is most wonderful here, leaving more dust, death and destruction.

I have suggested to the CEC and the BLM on various occasions and will continue to do so, that I understand they have an edict, a goal to meet, but the premisses are all wrong. California doesn’t count into renewal energy quota people that are totally off the grid, because they are not plugged into the grid. huh? The carbon costs of large scale “green energy” projects and the loss in transmission are a drop in the bucket compared to the power that will be produced and will destroy the land that we love and are supposed to protect for future generations. I have heard over and over that folks are all for renewal energy on roof tops and along already disturbed lands, where it is used. I don’t see this reflected in the Inyo County General Plan. The proposed Bright Source project on the Hidden Hills property in Charleston View in Southeast Inyo would have produced power for Bakersfield and nothing for Charleston View!

As much as I dislike most experiences of military exercises in our county, I was glad to read that the military also vehemently opposes this plan. Our young men and women need to have practice flying into other wild places and they should be able to do so at home safely. And I think people should come out and feel what it feels like 50 – 100+ miles away what big bombs feel like, because they might think about how horrible it would be to be bombed.

Given recent reports about the venerability of our nation’s energy grid, makes the argument for local production of energy even more desirable. Add to that the lengthy blackout in of San Diego a few years ago and the extended power outages on the east coast with severe weather, demonstrates locally produced power is the ONLY way to have reliable power in urban environments. Andy Selters said it best in his article in the Inyo Register, “Has the sun stopped shinning in Los Angeles?”

We need to stop thinking of our rural and wild places as economically deprived and underdeveloped. We know that our rural and wilderness are places that everyone needs, residents and visitors alike. Outdoor recreation is our economy! Our vast spaces remind us and our visitors of our place in the universe, our vastness is creator in every aspect. We live simply because we like it. Urban places are conversely overdeveloped and economically greedy. Our economy in Inyo County is the nature — and how we cherish it. We need to protect it and develop in ways that create and keep balance for many generations to come.

If you live in Tecopa and hear a t.v. network weather report, you’ll hear news for the LA area. I was stunned a few weeks back when I heard an LA newsperson remind folks to turn off their lawn sprinklers because rain was coming! I said out loud to no one in particular, “Didn’t our Governor just declare a state of emergency drought two months ago?! Why are they still watering their lawns?!!” Why is it more important to water lawns than irrigate our farms? Why on earth would Inyo County want to support wasteful consumption of energy by leasing land to big corporations for projects that would destroy our land, our wildlife, our soul?

There have to be better solutions. For example more conscious and efficient use of energy, and produce energy where it’s used. In 1997, the Institute for New Energy revealed that “the US Patent Office has classified over 3,000 patent devices or applications under the secrecy order, Title 35, US Code (1952) Sections 181-188” By the end of fiscal year 2010, the number of suppressed patents had expanded to 5,135 inventions-according to the Federation of American Scientists. Any solar cell with greater than 20 percent efficiency, or any system that is more than 70 to 80 percent efficient at converting energy, is automatically targeted for “review and possible restriction.”

Why can’t people have access to use these ideas and implement them? If all those federal and state tax breaks were offered to individuals and local communities to produce their own energy, where it’s needed in appropriate scale — instead of to corporations, energy users would be empowered (no pun intended) to meet the goals the CEC and others are charged to meet, indeed goals we all wish to achieve. In such a scenario, rural people, small communities and urban neighborhoods could afford to start producing their own truly green energy, where it’s needed, significantly reducing our cost of living and our wild lands would continue to be there for all of us to enjoy and share. This IS possible and this is what I hear from most I talk with in my community and visitors.

I hope the process of developing a new General Plan continues to welcome all voices to be heard and that a new General Plan is developed that more accurately reflects Inyo County and our eco-tourist economy. I hope we go further and stand up to resist industrialization of our whole region. We are also part of the whole Mojave, the Great Basin and the Sierra. Any industrialization projects in our region will have a significant negative impact on all of us.

I believe all of us who choose to make our lives here in Inyo County are very privileged to be here to experience this wondrous land and history. We need to know because of this, we are challenged to be stewards/partners to this land that we love and act accordingly, so that it will be here to inspire many more generations to come.

With gratitude and great joy for the lands that we all love,

Amy Noel

Tecopa Hot Springs Resort, Tecopa CA 92389

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