Supes pass Safety Element despite Albaugh’s insistent ‘climate change’ concerns

Aaron Albaugh

Lassen County’s Board of Supervisors held a public hearing and adopted the county’s Safety Element Update and associated negative declaration pursuit to the California Environmental Quality Act Tuesday, June 13.

Chair Gary Bridges, District 4 Supervisor Tom Nelly and District 5 Supervisor Jason Ingram voted aye and District 4 Supervisor Aaron Albaugh voted nay. District 1 Supervisor Chris Gallagher was absent.

The item was on the agenda to “receive report from staff regarding edits made to the Safety Element in response to comments received at the April 11, 2023 Board of Supervisors meeting … “

According to the staff report, ” The Safety Element Update and associated Negative Declaration were introduced at the April 11, 2023, Board of Supervisor’s meeting. The board requested that edits be made to the Safety Element and that it be brought back at a future meeting.”

According to the Safety Elements’ introduction, “This Safety Element addresses natural and human-caused hazards in Lassen County and the potential short- and long-term risk to human life, property damage and economic and social dislocation resulting from hazard events, including earthquakes, energy shortages and outages, extreme heat, flooding and wildfire. This is one of seven General Plan Elements required by state law (Government Code 65302). Because climate change affects and potentially exacerbates the impact of hazards, this Safety Element also addresses climate change within each hazard section, in accordance with Senate Bill 379 and as applicable.”

Although many of the changes requested by the supervisors were addressed, some supervisors requested still more changes with Albaugh leading the charge.

For example, Albaugh questioned the county’s ability to enforce weed abatement requirements on state and federal property. Staff responded the county has no jurisdiction in those areas. Albaugh also questioned all the restrictive regulations imposed by the state that hamper one’s ability to address issues on private land.

But Albaugh, a North County rancher, especially took exception to the notion climate change had anything to do with any of the safety issues facing the county.

Quoting from the Safety Element, Albaugh said, “‘Climate change will impact energy demand.’ I’m going to call BS on that. Climate change doesn’t do anything to energy demand.”

He said people charging their electric cars at night will have a huge impact on energy demand.

“In the same paragraph,” Albaugh said, “‘Climate change will also increase the frequency and intensity of many hazards.’ I mean, that’s BS. Climate change does not do that. You have climate change throughout this. How do you stick with climate change? It’s just like the last two weeks. It’s been storms and thunderstorms off and on. We haven’t had those in 40 years … By putting all this stuff in here, in my opinion, you’re just appeasing the Green Peace crowd and whatever the heck they are for their political agenda and everything, and I think that’s not good, in my personal opinion.”

Maury Anderson, Lassen County’s Planning Director asked if three of the supervisors wanted to remove the climate change language, but none of the supervisors directly responded to his question. He said the county was “on fumes” in terms of returning this document to the state. Staff said that language in the document had already been approved by state regulators.

Albaugh said he wasn’t asking for substantive changes, his concern was with the words climate change.

“This stuff happens whether you have climate change or not,” Albaugh said. “Why do we have to have climate change in there?”

During the supervisors’ comments portion of the hearing, Albaugh said it bugged him a county document apparently promotes the idea of climate change.

Ingram asked Anderson if climate change has to be included. Anderson said the language had already been approved by the state division of forestry and, “I resist tinkering with it, especially with that stuff because they might be watching, whoever they are. And it’s not so much I’m really paranoid about that, as much as it is  what went through, so I would recommend sticking with it despite our mutual dislike for that language.”