Camas Prairie, Elmore County, Idaho

Tag Archives: Communications

A Judge Could Review the County Commissioner’s Decision of Approve the Cat Creek Project

The long, complex and contentious Cat Creek Energy project approval process started in 2016 and bit and pieces are still being worked out at the local level. While the Cat Creek Energy project still has some state and federal obstacles to overcome before they can officially ruin the Elmore County backcountry the S Bar Ranch isn’t sitting idly by.

On March 7, 2019, the owner of the S Bar Ranch filed a petition with the Fourth District Court asking a judge to review the decisions that Commissioner’s Bud Corbus, Al Hofer and Wes Wootan made regarding the nearly 4,000 acre Cat Creek Energy mega-project. The 64-page petition can be downloaded at https://catcreek-energy.com/download/928/ but we realize some resident don’t have the time to review such an extensive legal document, no matter how well it was written (it’s mostly plain language and tells a troubling story).

Just Some “Bit and Pieces” of the Document

Below you’ll find some actual snippets from the legal document to whet your appetite and give you a reason to spend a few hours reading about how entrenched the “good 0ld boy” network has become in our local government. So, here goes.

Page 9 / P & Z Deny all Conditional Use Permits in Aug 2016
On June 15, 2016, the Elmore County Planning and Zoning Commission (“P&Z Commission”) met to consider the applications. The P&Z Commission heard testimony from the Developer, representatives of the Developer, and others individuals who supported the Project, some individuals who were neutral and several individuals who opposed the Project. On July 13, 2016, the Elmore P&Z Commission conducted deliberations of the applications for the CUPs. On August 17, 2016, the P&Z Commission unanimously, on a 60 vote with one member absent, voted to deny the applications.

 

Page 10 / The Project Does not Comply With County Ordinance
The Commission made several findings that the proposed project conflicts with the Comprehensive Plan with regard to Private Property Rights Objectives, Land Use Objectives, Scenic Area Objectives, Hazardous Area Objectives, andAreas of Critical Concern Objectives.
The Commission further found that the Project failed to comply with the applicable Zoning Ordinances, including Title 6, and the applicable State and Federal regulations. The Commission concluded that the Applications do not comply with the required findings set forth in Section 6277 of the Zoning Ordinances
.

 

Page 30 / Conflicts of Interest
The Board of Commissioners have a conflict of interest that violates I.C. § 67-6506 and other law, and prevents them from serving as a neutral quasi-judicial body in this contested matter that is pending before the Board. The conflict arises from the fact that the County is
requiring, as a condition for issuance of CUP-2015-04 and the other CUPs, that the Developer agree to divert and deliver water from Anderson Ranch Dam to the County using the Developer’s infrastructure. In other words, the County has a vested beneficial interest in approving the granting of hydro CUP and the other CUPs, which prevents the Board from serving as a neutral decision maker as required by law.

A further conflict of interest is created by the fact that Commissioner Hofer purportedly stepped away from his duties as a Commissioner and acted as a negotiator representing the County in negotiations with the Cat Creek representatives to reach agreement on the terms of the Development Agreement. Those ex parte communications were not disclosed to the Petitioner or the public. The Development Agreement, negotiated by Commissioner Hofer, was then submitted to Commissioner Hofers fellow Commissioners for their approval. Knowing that the
terms of the Development Agreement submitted to Commissioners Wooten and Corbus had been negotiated and approved by Commissioner Hofer, there was no way that Commissioners Wooten and Corbuscould remain neutral and perform their duties as neutral decision makers regarding the terms of the Development Agreement.

 

Page 52 / The Board’s Decisions Violate Due Process Because Two of Its Members Had Ex Parte Communications with Cat Creek
During the December 22, 2017, public hearing, Commissioner
Wootan acknowledged the Commissioners had been communicating among themselves regarding the project and decided they wanted to make the project work. In response to comments from a representative of Cat
Creek that they would work with the Board to put a deal together 
that works for Cat Creek and the County, CommissionerWootan stated: Were already to that point. Weve already communicated among ourselves that were workable, that we want to make their project work,
and we want to make our intent happen.Obviously, the Board had decided to approve the project, regardless of the publics input in the decision, in violation of due process.

Download the 64-page document at https://catcreek-energy.com/download/928/

 

What is Next and What We Expect – 16 May 2019

The next court hearing will be on May 16, 2019, at 3 p.m. in Boise, Idaho before Judge Nancy Baskin.  That is when S Bar Ranch will present oral arguments in support of our case and ask the judge to rule that the actions of the County are invalid and to remand it back to the Director of the Elmore County P&Z Commission.  

We believe Judge Baskin will take the decision under advisement and render a written decision as early as July 2019.

 

Take Action Before it is too Late

There are many actions you can take that will send a clear message to the Elmore County Commissioners, the State of Idaho and even our federal government. 

Contact the Elmore County Commissioners and tell them you are opposed to the Cat Creek Energy project. 

Contact your State Representative and State Senator and tell them to find a way to stop the Cat Creek Energy project before it ruins our Idaho backcounty, hunting grounds and fisheries. 

Contact Senator’s Crapo, Senator Risch, Congressman Simpson, and Congressman Fulcher.

We’ve put together a list of contact information for all the elected official mentioned above at https://catcreek-energy.com/mailing-addresses-for-cat-creek-energy-issues/ 

 

Share, Share and Share Some More

There are many people in and around Elmore County that still do not know about the Cat Creek Energy project and how badly it will affect wildlife, fishing, water quality and hunting. Please share this information with your friends, family, and co-workers.

 

Thanks.

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Will Highway 20 Become the Next Wind Turbine Corridor?

Is this the future of Highway 20? We hope not.

The segment of Highway 20 that Roger Brooks, an international tourism expert called “one of the best drives in Idaho” could easily become the next wind turbine corridor in the state.

That segment of highway Rogers Brooks was referring to, runs from just north of Mountain Home to Camas Prairie and into our mountain communities of Pine and Featherville.

Cat Creek Energy already has plans to put up forty, 500+ foot tall wind turbines along Cat Creek Summit and partially down the Pine-Featherville Road. We also know that Cat Creek is having troubles getting federal approval for the Pumped Storage Hydroelectric project on the bluffs above and interconnected with Anderson Ranch Reservoir. The developers have stated many times in the past that all three portions of their mega-energy project need to be approved to make it financially viable. If Cat Creek cannot get state or federal approval for the hydroelectric portion, they will likely have to make up for the megawatt shortage by putting up additional wind turbines along Highway 20.

Wind Power Friendly California Rebels Against New Turbines

According to an article on the Daily Wire website (https://www.dailywire.com/news/44146/b-b-climate-change-california-county-kills-plans-paul-bois), the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors voted to ban the construction of large solar and wind farms on more than 1 million acres of private land.

Local residents say that solar and wind farms destroy areas like Dagget, Joshua Tree and Lucerne Valley by turning the landscape into eyesores. Sara Fairchild, a resident of Pioneertown, has been working to have California Highway 247 turned into a designated state scenic highway to boost the local economy; she says that would all fall apart in the face of a mega solar farm.”

The local San Bernardino government listened to residents when they asked for a moratorium on new wind and solar farms in the rural parts of the county. Basically, the people said why grow wind and solar farms when we can grow a more profitable tourism industry that won’t destroy the scenery.

What they actually said was basically the same thing opponents to the Cat Creek Energy project are saying.

These vast open areas are precious for their natural, historical and recreational qualities. But they are fragile, and no amount of mitigation can counter the damage that industrial-scale renewable energy projects would cause,” Fairchild told the supervisors. “Once destroyed, these landscapes can never be brought back.”

The big difference between the California mega-energy project locations and the planned Cat Creek Energy location is our Elmore County, Idaho location contains verified wildlife migration corridors, the “threatened” bull trout and no need for the energy Cat Creek says they want to generate.

Spread the Word / Tell the Elected Official We Don’t Want CCE

The Elmore County Commissioners tentatively approved the Cat Creek Energy project even after their own planning and zoning commission said “no way.”

If you are opposed to the Cat Creek Energy project, take action today.

Contact Elmore County Commissioners Corbus, Wootan and Hofer at:

https://elmorecounty.org/contact/

or

  • Bud Corbus – Phone: (208) 587-2129 ext. 505 Phone: (208)599-1294
  • Wes Wootan – Phone: (208) 587-2129 ext. 505 Phone: (208)599-3131
  • Al Hofer – Phone: (208)587-2129 ext. 505 Phone: (208) 599-1620

and/or

Mail Address:

BOCC
150 South 4th East
Mountain Home, ID 83647

 

In addition, you might consider sharing this post with friends, family, and co-workers.

 

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Contact the Elmore County Commissioners From Their Website

Contact your county commissioner.

 

Sometime in the last weeks of February 2019, Elmore County finally made a “Contact the Board of County Commissioners” form available to citizens.

This is good news as the online form makes it easier to express your opinions and give feedback to these elected officials.

To access the contact form:

  • Point your browser to https://elmorecounty.org/contact/
  • Under the “Which Department or Person are you trying to contact?” click the dropdown menu and choose “Board of County Commissioner.“
  • Fill in all of the input boxes and submit the form.

 

I always make a copy of what I send to our elected officials before submitting via an online form, including the date and time I sent my feedback. I find that sometimes the online submission form is broken and other times, I get no response from the person I was contacting. Having a record of the who, what, where and when makes follow up questions easier.

 

Your Elmore County Commissioners

Bud Corbus (R) – Commissioner District 1 – Term expires Jan 2021
Wesley Wootan (R) – Commissioner District 2 – Term expires Jan. 2021
Albert Hofer (R) – Commissioner District 3 – Term expires Jan. 2023

Shelley Essl is the Clerk of the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) and can be contacted by using the web form at https://elmorecounty.org/contact/ or at
150 South 4th East, Suite 3
Mountain Home, Idaho 83647
Phone: 208.587.2130 Extension 500

 

Reference: A Nov. 29, 2018 post at https://catcreek-energy.com/why-we-ask-you-to-write-a-letter/

 

 

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FERC Requests Info from Cat Creek Energy

Proposed Cat Creek Energy Project

In a previous post dated Feb 26, 2019, we highlighted the fact that the FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) has requested additional information from Cat Creek Energy (CCE).  This is a request regarding a successive preliminary permit application for their Pumped Storage Hydroelectric project.
The Cat Creek Energy project will get more complicated as the developers start interacting with state and federal entities before they can move ahead with the project.  We feel it’s important for all Elmore County residents to understand the entire process.

Reference: http://catcreek-energy.com/ferc-request-cat-creek-provide-additional-information-by-march-8-2019/

We Think It’s Important to Understand the FERC Requests For Information

The FERC has requested Cat Creek Energy provide information, action and/or documentation regarding two different issues.  These requests apply to their bid to use public land and infrastructure for the pumped storage hydroelectric portion of their mega-energy project.  This project will affect the backcountry of Elmore County, Idaho.

Background for FERC Request #1: Cat Creek Energy wants to build a new reservoir, including a dam on the bluffs above Anderson Ranch Reservoir. They will use water from Anderson to fill their 100,000 acre/foot reservoir.  This will require using six, 15-foot diameter pipes/penstocks.

The bull trout lives in Anderson Ranch Reservoir. It thrives because of the pristine and stable environment found within the South Fork of the Boise River basin, including Anderson Ranch. The bull trout is listed as a threatened species by the U.S. Government.

FERC Request #1: The FERC has requested that CCE show proof of the actions and/or geotechnical studies they have, or will commission in the future, regarding how they will mitigate the effects that their pumped storage hydroelectric project will have on the threatened bull trout.
Remember, the bull trout lives in Anderson Ranch Reservoir, just 1,000 feet from their planned dam/reservoir on Little Camas Prairie. The two reservoirs will be interconnected if Cat Creek gets the approval to move ahead with the project.

By Brambleshire – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17074506

 

Background on FERC Request #2: Cat Creek Energy entered into a “Lease of Power Privilege” (LOPP) with the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) for the use of Anderson Ranch Reservoir. The Bureau of Reclamation has indicated that CCE has yet to provide the required funding to move ahead with the lease agreement.

FERC Request #2: The FERC has requested CCE initiate and memorialize the critical payments and actions required by the “Lease of Power Privilege” (LOPP) agreement.

 

Cat Creek Energy has until March 8, 2019, to fully respond to these two Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requests for information.

 

 

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Why … We Ask You to Write a Letter

You should ask Commissioners Wes Wootan, Bud Corbus and Al Hofer why they don’t want you to email them.”

Since we took on the Cat Creek Energy project, we’ve asked you to get involved and take action to put a stop to the ill-conceived mega energy project slated for our Elmore County backcountry. And since that time, the Elmore County Commissioners have removed the “Contact Us” form their website. Why?

Elmore County now asks that you physically write and mail a letter to them if you would like to testify during a Public Hearing if you cannot attend the meeting. And for some people, writing and mailing a letter is acceptable. For others, writing a letter and electronically mailing, emailing, a letter is a much better method of communicating with their elected officials.

Elmore County Sits Alone Among Surrounding Counties

We did some research and discovered the Elmore County Commissioners are the only local county commissioners that do not provide/publish an email address to ensure easy and consistent communications.

The included map graphics shows most counties publish the individual email addresses for their county commissioners (green). Three counties (yellow), however, limit the email address to a generic board of county commissioners email address. Still, writing and delivering a letter, an important idea or thought to those county commissioners is just a matter of pushing a button.

The Elmore County Commissioners (black) sit alone, however. We even emailed the clerk of the board of county commissioners months ago about this issue but received no response from her or anyone from the county.

Breakdown of Published Email Addresses for Local County Commissioner

  • Ada County: Group BOCC email available
  • Owyhee County: Individual commissioner email addresses available
  • Canyon County: Individual commissioner email addresses available
  • Boise County: Individual commissioner email addresses available
  • Camas County: Individual commissioner email addresses available
  • Gooding County: Individual commissioner email addresses available, although not convenient to access.
  • Twin Falls County: Group BOCC email available
  • Blaine County: Individual commissioner email addresses available
  • Jerome County: Individual commissioner email addresses available, although not convenient to access.
  • Custer County: Group BOCC email available

Ask “Why” Today

With a next Public Hearing on Friday, December 14, 2018, you should ask your county commissioner why they wish to limit you from communicating with them only through the United States Postal Service. No other local county restricts their residents in such a way.

Standing out in this manner shouldn’t be considered normal if transparency and open communication is a goal.

Write and Mail to:

Elmore County Land Use and Building Department
520 East 2nd South Street
Mountain Home, Idaho, 83647

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