Humboldt Baykeeper has made quite a name for itself here in Humboldt and throughout the North Coast. Unfortunately, Baykeeper has less notoriety for carrying out their “mission” “to safeguard our coastal resources for the health, enjoyment, and economic strength of the Humboldt Bay community” and are more well-known for their attacks against private businesses.
True to form, Baykeeper has wormed their way onto the Board of Supervisors’ agenda for tomorrow with an appeal aimed at derailing Royal Gold, a soil producing company, from moving and expanding their operations to a more suitable industrial location.
So, remind us – how does targeting local businesses for operating within the limits of the law and with the express approval of multiple local, state, and federal agencies do anything to safeguard the economic strength of the Humboldt Bay community?
Well, one could argue that Baykeeper’s tactics do serve to strengthen their own economic prosperity. As seen in a confrontation last year between Baykeeper and the owners of ACE Hardware in McKinleyville, Jen Kalt and her ‘keeper cronies love to allege serious environmental violations against businesses, and then seek compensation for their “work” through legal action.
(You can read more about the case of Baykeeper/Kalt vs. Companies that actually benefit our area in this post: Environmental group sues private business)
Humboldt County’s Planning Commission and the County Planning Department – who mostly hate to even be in the same room together, let alone agree on anything – both feel that Baykeeper’s appeal on Royal Gold’s move is baseless. The Planning Commission already approved the conditional use permit required for Royal Gold to expand their operation, and planning staff has recommended to the Supervisors to deny Baykeeper’s appeal.
If you check out the agenda for tomorrow’s board meeting, you’ll find the staff report related to the public hearing on Baykeeper’s appeal.
If you go to the very end of that staff report, you’ll see that Kalt cc’d Jason Flanders of the Aqua Teris Aeris Law Group – a group which specializes in environmental law and places a special emphasis on litigating on the behalf of individuals and “non-profits” that target government agencies and private businesses.
Here’s the full text of the county staff recommendation for the agenda item:
“Staff Recommendation: The project as proposed, conditioned and mitigated hos been referred
to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which found that measures included were
protective of biological resources. Staff supports the applicant’s consultant contention that this
issue is adequately addressed in the MND. Mitigation Measures, and Conditions of Approval.
The applicant’s consultant concluded that: “The appellant did not provide any specific
information about what hydrologic connection the site has to Hall Creek or how aquatic species
are specifically being impacted by the exceedances of Numeric Action Levels (NALs)
established by the SWRCB. This unsupported conclusion does not meet the criteria for substantial
evidence in § 15384 of the CEQA Guidelines. Therefore, the appeal letter from Humboidt Bay
Keeper (sic) is lacking sufficient information and evidence to substantiate the claim that the
Royal Gold soil operation may interfere with CDFW restoration efforts on Hall Creek.” Staff
concurs with this assessment.”
It should also be noted that Royal Gold’s move is motivated in part by coming into compliance with existing County code – which means that Baykeeper is also trying to stop a local business from doing things the right way. And Baykeeper may potentially be trying to profit from making it even harder on a business to succeed and operate.
Of course, Baykeeper attempting to sue either the County or Royal Gold is not a sure thing. But given their track record, and how doggedly Baykeeper has pursued this single case despite the numerous bureaucratic hurdles and various agencies a conditional use permit must go through prior to approval, well…Let’s just say that THC won’t be surprised to see Baykeeper trying to squeeze somebody for money under the guise of “protecting our community” yet again.