Imperial Valley solar developers who sought to cover thousands of acres with solar panels needed construction and electrical workers to make their vision a reality.
That often meant dealing with unions that could provide those workers. The unions were eager to broker so-called project labor agreements, which usually include pacts to hire local workers and to offer certain pay and benefits.
One of those local unions sued developers and Imperial County over the approval of four solar projects collectively known as the Campo Verde and Solar Gen 2 solar farms. They didn’t challenge about 20 others proposed during Imperial County’s solar boom.
In its two lawsuits, the regional Laborers’ International Union of North America alleged violations of CEQA, a law meant to allow opponents to push for changes to a project that lessen its impact on the environment.
I asked Mike Dea, the Laborers’ business agent who oversees the groups’ work on this front, why his union challenged these particular projects. He said his union had gotten involved in a number of environmental and labor-related lawsuits across the state.
Then I asked whether his group had reached labor deals with the developers behind the solar projects his group sued over.
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"Dea failed to respond to numerous messages and calls."
Shock of shocks. Nothing like a little, good 'ol fashioned extortion. Excuse me--I mean environmental concern.
Standard practice. In case you didn't know CEQA is a weapon used for both good and evil. Mostly evil.
"The first thing we do," said the character (Dick) in Shakespeare's Henry VI, is "let's kill all the lawyers."
Henry VI, Part 2 Act 4, Scene 2
How are we supposed to move forward on energy/environment issues, when the law that's supposed to protect the environment is the very roadblock making it impossible to make progress!?! CEQA needs to be reformed. When abusing a law becomes the primary line of defense for any unrelated advocacy under the sun, I'd hope that's enough for legislators to rise above campaign contributions and make some changes.
Thanks for bringing attention to the issue Lisa.