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Lake County Energy Council v. Lake, County of

ELR Citation: 7 ELR 20699
Nos. No. Civ. 40321, 139 Cal. Rptr. 176, (Cal. Dist. Ct. App., 06/20/1977)

The court affirms a county planning commission's certification of an environmental impact report (EIR) for the drilling of exploratory geothermal wells as being in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) despite the absence of any consideration of the impact of a geothermal production unit in the event the exploratory wells are successful. Several factors indicate that the scope of the CEQA inquiry in this case need not include the effects of commercial geothermal production. The drilling of these exploratory wells is necessary to determine whether the location is suitable for geothermal development, and the applicant thus presently possesses no reliable data to permit preparation of a meaningful and accurate report on the impact of commercial production. Moreover, approval of the exploratory wells does not commit the county to approve commercial development of this resource. Defendants concede that a separate comprehensive EIR would be required prior to commercial development. There is thus no danger that the county's approval of exploratory drilling will hinder full consideration of the environmental consequences in future decisionmaking with respect to commercial geothermal development in this area.

Counsel for Plaintiff-Appellant
Peter F. Windrem
125 Second St., Lakeport CA 95453
(707) 263-5261

Counsel for Defendants-Respondents
Charles D. Haughton, County Counsel; Herbert L. Keaton, Deputy County Counsel
Lakeport CA 95453
(707) 263-2321

Counsel for Real Parties in Interest Respondent Magma Energy, Inc. and Dow Chemical Company
Joseph W. Aidlin
5143 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90027
(213) 666-1910

Crump, Bruchler & Crump
1175 Main St., Lakeport CA 95453
(707) 263-5607

RATTIGAN, Acting P.J., and CHRISTIAN, J., concur.