Now that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has begun removing some of the 21 land-based national monuments from consideration for energy or other commercial development, he should add the Carrizo Plains National Monument to his list of protected sites.
In recent days, Zinke has indicated that the Upper Missouri River Breaks in Montana, Moon National Monument in Idaho, Hanford Ranch in Washington and Canyons of the Ancients in Colorado will be taken off the list for evaluation. There are very good reasons for Zinke to also put the Carrizo Plains beyond reach of development interest.
Carrizo’s oil and gas potential is modest at best. It lacks infrastructure and water resources for large scale development and it serves the Central Coast well as a tourist attraction with stark vistas, wildflowers and plenty of open space. Like the Missouri River Breaks, Carrizo was placed on the protected list by former President Bill Clinton.
Private property near Carrizo has done its part, serving as the development site for two large solar projects, Topaz and California Valley, that are providing more than 800 megawatts of power for PG&E customers in Northern California.
Development of the Topaz and California Valley fields have helped the state meet Gov. Jerry Brown’s ambitious goals for renewable energy generation and greenhouse gas reduction. In addition to serious questions about how state agencies would regulate conventional energy development in the area, a lack of water resources, particularly groundwater, has put a natural limit on what can be done with Carrizo.
The Carrizo is simply not an economical nor practical place for oil and gas development. It is, however, a uniquely picturesque area, with plenty of opportunity for tourists and outdoor activities. Zinke should do the right thing and take Carrizo off the list.
OBAMACARE REFORM NEEDED
Dysfunction in the nation’s capital came home to roost on the Central Coast on Aug. 6 when Anthem Blue Cross announced it was pulling out of the Covered California exchange in much of Southern California.
The decision to ditch roughly half the state, including the Tri-Counties, is an indication of how our political system continues to hit middle class and working class families the hardest, particularly when it comes to health care. Poorer families have access to health care via MediCal while concierge and other services are booming for wealthy patients.
Covered California did offer relatively low-cost coverage to middle class families and individuals who were self-employed or whose employers did not offer group plans. In some cases, Covered California plans were cheaper than the offerings through group plans, particularly for small business.
We’ve long argued that the Affordable Care Act had some serious flaws; it redefined full time work as 30 hours a week, some of its approved plans were too expensive and too restrictive and others forced customers into high deductible options.
With the much-discussed repeal and replacement for Obamacare dead in Congress, it’s time to get to work and find a way to reform the ACA so it is more effective and cost-effective. Blue Cross’ decision to leave Covered California is not a rejection of Obamacare; it is walking away from the indecision and dysfunction that is paralyzing the federal government.