The Sierra Club is suing to stop implementation of Kern River Valley Specific Plan because it is not specific enough.
Gordon Nipp of the Kern-Kaweah Chapter of the Sierra Club said the plan and its environmental impact report, certified by the Kern County Board of Supervisors in late June, failed to adequately describe how it would achieve a number of positive goals including reducing green house gases, promoting alternative energy and green building practices.
"When they say they're going to encourage people to do solar, how are they going to encourage them?" Nipp asked.
Green building is another goal the plan will encourage, he said.
"That sounds like a wonderful thing, but they don't really have to do it," Nipp said.
The lawsuit against Kern County mentions specific areas in which, it alleges, the county failed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act.
Those areas include using air quality standards that have a 2020 timeline for a plan that is supposed to pursue air quality improvements through 2030, replacing farmland used up by development in an arbitrary ratio and inadequately responding to Sierra Club concerns about the plan.
Nipp said the county's plan has no teeth to hold developers accountable for their actions and leaves both the public and planners from the county and developers without a clear set of standards to go by while projects are being developed.
And, while the lawsuit is not specifically about the development of massive wind and solar projects in the area, it does seek to make sure the specific plan actually preserves the basic character of the Kern River Valley.
"The plan suggests that, but doesn't say exactly how to do that," Nipp said.
Kern County Planning Director Lorelei Oviatt said the Sierra Club lawsuit can only raise a couple of issues in court because there were very few complaints against the plan itself during public hearings.
The plan is not a plan designed to allow development but rather to be a comprehensive plan for how the Kern River Valley will be preserved in the future, she said.
And, Oviatt added, the plan complies with CEQA rules.
"We are confident we will prevail. The citizens of the Kern River Valley worked long and hard on this plan," she said. "We believe this lawsuit has no merit."Administrator, KRVR.org firstname.lastname@example.org
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