Mt Democrat Editorial De-Evolution - Opinion
For most of the 16 years I have lived in El Dorado County I have looked to the editorials in your paper for information and counsel on events occurring within our local area. Often those editorial opinions have spelled out details of a proposed development that would otherwise not be available without attending a multitude of public meetings. In other words, your editorials have, in the past, provided a valuable service to the citizenry. Such was the case in your editorial of July 20, 2005, regarding SMUD’s proposed pumped storage entitled “Iowa Hill half-baked.” In that article you list some (not nearly all) of the negative impacts this massive project would foist upon our county and concluded that “…constructing this large project will have dramatic and deleterious effects on El Dorado County.” You further acknowledge that “Apple Hill is too important to El Dorado County. SMUD must not be allowed to interfere with this vital economic activity.”
It is obvious that in 2005 the editorial staff was acting as an advocate for the citizens of El Dorado County who would be harmed by this proposed development. Fast forward to Dec. 2, 2013, when, in the first editorial mention of the Iowa Hill project since 2005, our “advocate” publishes an editorial entitled “Iowa Hill Advances.” This piece is nothing more than a press release and could very well have been written by SMUD itself. No mention is made of a single mitigation measure designed to alleviate the negative impacts so well outlined in your 2005 editorial. It is as if by not talking about those impacts they will go away. It also seems that the editorial policy of our paper has evolved from being an El Dorado County advocate to being but a Public Relations conduit for this particular developer.
This apparent change in editorial policy begs the question. What happened? Is the editorial staff aware of mitigation measures that would render the obvious negative impacts into insignificance? In light of the ever-increasing traffic congestion in Apple Hill are the tens-of-thousands of truck trips through the heart of this “vital economic activity” no longer thought to be a problem? Are we being advised to overlook the fact that SMUD has, to date, not provided enough real project data to quantify the environmental and socio-economic disaster these projects will become? (The lack of real data has been pointed out in writing by the California Quality Control Board, the U.S. Forest Service, the Department of Fish and Game, the Bureau of Land Management, and several other state and federal agencies.) Are we to approve these projects so we can find out just how bad we are to be hurt?
The final question: Can we no longer rely on the editors to champion our rural environment and lifestyle?