Don Rivenes: Protecting Nevada County energy plans |

Don Rivenes: Protecting Nevada County energy plans

In thinking back on the seven years that Nevada County Climate Action Now (NC-CAN) has existed to combat climate change, I recall actions and presentations on Standing Rock pipeline, oil trains, supporting the Paris peace talks, electric cars, water table depletion, divestment from fossil fuels, a workshop on plastic use, backup storage and health impacts of climate change. Each year we also hold a camp for youth that educates them on climate related issues.

Now there is the issue of the reopening of the Idaho-Maryland mine and its impact on greenhouse gas emissions and air quality.

In 2017 we re-formed the working group on Nevada City’s 2015 Energy Action Plan to help Nevada City pass a resolution that calls for 100% renewables electricity by 2035 and 100% renewable energy including natural gas by 2050. This conforms with California’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) that requires 60% of retail sales of electricity in California to come from eligible renewable resources by 2030, and 100% by 2045.

Since then some of our members joined working groups from Grass Valley and Nevada County formed after the passage of Energy Action Plans for those two municipalities. Their goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electricity use and natural gas use by 2035 or earlier. This will be accomplished by accelerating energy efficiency, water efficiency, and renewable energy efforts. Though the actual savings amounts vary by plan, the main points are:

Decarbonization of existing buildings through efficiency retrofits and use of solar power.

Implementation of the 2019 Title 24 CA Building Standards that require new residential construction to meet 100% of the energy use by renewables starting in 2020. New commercial construction will need to comply by 2030.

Encourage the efficient and safe transportation and use of water resources.

The Nevada County Energy Action Plan calls for a 51% reduction in electricity use and 30% natural gas use by 2035. It is expected to save half from building retrofitting and compliance with new building zero net energy, and half from local solar and wind renewable energy production not coming from PG&E.

Mine Concerns

This leads us to our concerns about the current proposal to Nevada County to allow the re-opening of the Idaho-Maryland mine. The annual electricity usage of the mine is estimated by the Mine Air Quality report to be 42,756.56 gWh (Utility-Provided Electricity for Facility). This matches and offsets completely the projected annual energy savings for the Grass Valley Energy Action Plan (Table ES-2). It is also equal to the annual electricity usage of 6,000 Grass Valley homes (Table C-1.)

Table 17 of the Mine Air Quality report shows 4,072.75 metric tons annual CO2 emissions for PG&E supplied electricity with a grand total of 9,049.62 metric tons CO2 emissions from all sources including truck hauling traffic and personnel commuting, not including the other toxics entering the air from mining. Transportation is not covered by the Energy Action Plans, but its impacts are required to be reviewed by an EIR for projects such as this. In addition, there are serious impacts from the wastewater discharges into the South Fork Wolf Creek, and the potential draining of resident’s wells.

The County will be preparing a Draft Environmental Impact Report beginning this fall on the Idaho-Maryland mine. Please help us ensure that the efforts of our local community to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions will not be impacted by this project.

To get involved with the mine efforts contact CEA Foundation is creating a campaign to make sure all environmental issues are fully addressed, along with economic issues.

To support NC-CAN climate efforts you can access our website at or contact me at 530-477-7502.

Don Rivenes lives in Grass Valley.

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