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November 8, 2016 — California General Election
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City of NeedlesCandidate for City Council

Photo of Ruth Musser-Lopez

Ruth Musser-Lopez

350 votes (10.17%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • RESTORE OUR LOCAL COURT: Ruth wrote and has campaigned since 2014 for the EQUAL ACCESS TO JUSTICE resolution which is the only resolution coming out of the Mojave Desert that was passed by the statewide party.
  • FISCAL ACCOUNTABILITY: END UNFAIR FLAT TAX UPON LOW INCOME NEEDLES PROPERTY OWNERS - Ruth’s voter initiative to stop local government from imposing taxes we didn’t vote on will go viral across California. She conceived of and wrote the voter initi
  • PROMOTE ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES: ENCOURAGE HISTORIC & ECOTOURISM ALONG RT66. Incentives for small start up businesses for RT66 tourism. Fair and equitable cannabis industry permitting; collective bargaining for industry labor; project labor agree



Director, Archaeological Heritage Associates (RiverAHA) (2010–current)
Director, People Against Radioactive Dumping (1994–current)
Owner/Manager, Self - Ruth Musser-Lopez - Rental Property Management, Needles, California (1986–current)
MEMBER, CITY OF NEEDLES CEMETERY BOARD — Appointed position (2016–current)
Archaeologist, United States Department of the Interior - See various appointed paid positions. (1978–2009)
Principal Investigator, PARDners Consulting (2000–2006)
COUNCIL MEMBER, CITY OF NEEDLES — Elected position (1993–1994)


University of California, Los Angeles and Riverside campuses Bachelor of Arts, Anthropology/Archaeology (1976)

Community Activities

Leader, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts (Needles Clubs) (1990–1993)
Vice President, Parent Teacher Association (Needles) (1992–1993)


  • Ruth was born and raised in San Bernardino County, graduating with honors from the University of California and relocated to Needles in 1980 with the BLM where she was employed as the East Mojave Desert Archaeologist.
  • Ruth met Robert Lopez, from a third generation Needles Santa Fe RR family, who was employed as a welder for Edison and belonged to the AFL-CIO.  They married and raised their two children together.  Ruth was both a Girl Scout and Boy Scout leader and PTA vice president before being elected to the Needles City Council in 1993.  
  • While on the Needles City Council she dealt with a city council influenced by an international nuclear industry and PG&E’s chromium 6 waste cover-up—desperately wanting to remove her and Charles Butler, both of whom were advocating against frivolous spending, toxic waste dumping and a proposed nuclear dump near Needles.  Butler was hit in the stomach at a council meeting and died of pancreas rupture during a malicious recall of these two  dump opponents.  
  • After Butler’s death, Ruth bypassed the council and County Board of Supervisors—she took the reigns as director of People Against Radioactive Dumping (PARD).  Over 20,000 voters signed the initiative Ruth wrote to prohibit the disposal of toxic radioactive waste over pristine desert water aquifers like that in nearby Ward Valley and, her voter initiative helped bring about the end of the Needles nuclear dump scheme.
  • The East Mojave Water Heist.    The only Federal lawsuit against the Cadiz water project was filed by Ruth Musser-Lopez in “pro per” forcing the US Dept. of Interior to admit federal issues requiring National level review of the project.  Now coastal water conservation and desalination renders the desert water heist superfluous and expensive.

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Evolve
  • California Democratic Party
  • Central Labor Council of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, AFL-CIO

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

I am a fiscal conservative, but a social progressive.  What does that mean?   I detest the Republicans who say they are against taxes and eminent domain then our Needles City Council with majority Republicans vote to impose an outrageously unfair flat tax upon the people of Needles...a population made of roughly 60% moderate income or lower. Also, they voted to take far more land than was necessary for their project...I fought them on this and the Judge sided with me. Talk about 2nd amendment? Where is the protection of our property rights against these greedmongers?  AND they don't want any child protection mechanisms put on guns...who is thinking of the children's property--their own lives.    These Republicans gave themselves handouts of free utilities while hiking up the utility rates of the poor to subsidize an outrageousy paid City Manager over $200K with benefits in a town of less than 5000 people. They did nothing to stop our court from being shut down and we must now travel two hours across the desert.  That is not equal access to justice.   Do you like a government of Republicans like that telling you what to do with your body?  I am for personal liberties, choice, freedom of religion and equal treatment.  I am for ending the disparity in how brown people including Native Americans are targeted for arrest in Needles while white power brokers go unchecked in their white collar crimes against the environment and financial accountability.  VOTE RUTH MUSSER-LOPEZ:  COURAGE TO CARE, PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE.

Position Papers

CalTrans and Needles Officials conspire to ignore Historic RT66 Properties--Wrongful NO Public Review of the i-40 Inter


Over $6M federal dollars spent on studies of the I-40 Interconnect project with nothing to show for the cost to the pbulic  in the way of documenting historic RT66 properties in harms way.  CalTrans and the City of Needles conspired to have the archaoelogist ignore the settings of historic properties that would be impacted or demolished.  No report was made of the historic walls, signs, RT66 footprint or 100 year old structures lining the path of the project.  

Letter addressed to:

ADMINISTRATOR - Federal Highway Administration

c/o California Department of Transportation

District 8

Division of Environmental Planning

464 W. 4th Street, 6th Floor, MS 1222

San Bernardino, CA 92401-1400


Mr. David Bricker

Deputy District Director

Environmental Planning

909/388-7725 office

951/317-2495 cell


Dear FHWA ADMINISTRATOR and Mr. Bricker:

RE:  CEASE AND DESIST.  DEMAND FOR STATUTORY COMPLIANCE INCLUDING CONSULTATION AND REEVALUATION OF THE I-40 INTERCONNECT PROJECT (NCPD02-5220-003).  The public, particularly those people who will be adversely and directly impacted by the I-40 Interconnect Project (NCPD02-5220-003), have certain statutory guarantees and rights under federal and California state law.  This letter constitutes a demand that your AGENCY, CALTRANS REGION 8 comply with certain laws and regulations thereby guaranteeing this public our rights under law.  Thus, this letter constitutes:  1)  a demand that you and your employees cease and desist from falsely representing that the I-40 Interconnect Project qualifies as a “Categorical Exclusion” from the NEPA and CEQA process, 2)  an OBJECTION to any and all CHECKLISTS or OTHER CERTIFICATIONS VALIDATING THE I-40 INTERCONNECT PROJECT AS A CATEGORICAL EXCLUSION FROM NEPA or a Categorical Exemption from CEQA, 3) a demand to be notified with regard to any actions (INCLUDING CATEGORICAL EXEMPTIONS/EXCLUSIONS AND REEVALUATIONS) on the matter of the I-40 Interconnect Project, 4) a demand to be notified as to the appeal procedure/process with regard to CALTRANS/FHWY actions on the I-40 Interconnect Project; 5) a Notice of our intent to seek judicial relief should relief not be provided by your Agency acting on behalf of the Federal Highway Administration.   

Route 66 is a linear archaeological site, which has been found to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and is currently being considered for such other protective status as a National Scenic Highway, a National Monument, or as a National Historic Trail. A segment of Route 66 is located in Needles, California and it will be directly and adversely impacted by the above referenced I-40 Interconnect project.

The I-40 Interconnect project is federally funded new interstate highway connector corridor road project, over 1 mile long, located in Needles, California, replacing a segment of historic Route 66 and National Old Trails Road, and linking the J Street offramp of I-40 with the bridge crossing into Arizona.  Two lanes would be widened to four lanes and traffic signal devices will be installed at 3 intersections.   Portions of Route 66 footprint and some unique features will be demolished and replaced with new surfacing, curbs, sidewalks, expanding into the historic settings of numerous historic structures within a historic district of Route 66.  

The I-40 Interconnect project is located on a segment of Route 66 in the Route 66 historic district of Needles.  Route 66 has already been found to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.  The historic town of Needles is a district of historic building structures that constitute features of Route 66.  These historic structures add charm and character to Route 66 without which it would be simply a 2-lane highway without scenic historic structures.  

In Needles, Route 66 was relocated numerous times thus leaving a record of historic building events that reflect the various reroutes through Needles.   The route existed through Needles prior to the Route 66 improvements being made; National Old Trails Road, also known as the Ocean-to-Ocean Highway, was established in 1912, and became part of the National Auto Trail system in the United States. It was 3,096 miles (4,983 km) long and stretched from Baltimore, Maryland (some old maps indicate New York City was the actual eastern terminus), to California. Much of the route follows the old National Road and the Santa Fe Trail.  A segment of National Old Trails Road is located in Needles and within the I-40 Interconnect project APE.

Section 106 (Protection of Historic Properties) of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA) requires federal agencies to take into account the effects of their undertakings on historic properties. A Section 106 review refers to the federal review process designed to ensure that historic properties are considered during federal project planning and implementation. The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, an independent federal agency, administers the review process, with assistance from state historic preservation offices.

In the case of the Needles I-40 Interconnect, the federal agency involved is the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).  The FHWA contracts with the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) to complete the section 106 review on its behalf.  

On March 5, 2013, Mr. Aaron Burton, Environmental Branch Chief, CalTrans,  and Sean Young, Project Manager, Region 8, certified that the I-40 interconnect project qualifies as a Categorical Exclusion from the National Environmental Protection Act (hereafter “NEPA”) also  certifying that the project would not damage scenic resources, would not cause a substantial adverse change in the significance of a historical resource, would not have a cumulative effect.    We disagree and assert that the project has changed since this Categorical Exclusion was certified and the project will now cause significant damage to the scenic resources of a significant historic resource, Route 66, and in fact, will demolish a significant feature of the footprint of Route 66, causing additional cumulative adverse impacts to a world class heritage site that is also listed as eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.  


In the FHWY Administration’s “Reevaluation Guidance established in June of 2007, “there are three triggers that necessitate the initiation of the consultation or reevaluation process:  1)  Project is proceeding to the next major federal approval, 2) Project changes; 3) Three year timeline for an EIS.

RiverAHA assert that all three triggers have been pulled on the  I-40 Interconnect project and demands that the FHWA comply with NEPA and the NHPA by reevaluating the impact of the project upon the environment, the project’s cultural setting and specific significant historic structures eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places  now scheduled for demolition.  


Ssince approval of the original documentation there have been changes in project engineering/design; 2) changes to the environmental setting/circumstanceS; 3.) changes in laws and regulations 4) changes in nature and severity of environmental impact; 5) changes to environmental commitments - avoidance, minimization and/or mitigation.  



The following is a list of changes identified in 2007 Reevaluation Guidance that would require a reevaluation.

A.  Changes have been made in the project engineering and design (e.g. substantial scope change; a new alternative; change in project alignment.

B.  Changes in circumstances, such as environmental setting,  require a reevaluation

C.  Changes have caused a significant increase in the severity and adverse nature of the environmental impacts.

D.  No previous commitments to avoid, minimize or mitigate the adverse impacts that these changes will bring, thus a reevaluation is needed to identify potential mitigation/impact alleviation measures. 
Numerous and significant changes were made in the project engineering design after March 2013 when the NEPA Categorical Exclusion and CEQA Categorical Exemption was certified.  These changes  involve the expansion of the existing road alignment into the settings of significant historic structures and demolition of key features of these settings including historic landscape, yard walls, driveways, retaining walls, potential underground features (prohibition era tunnels) not previously identified and the expansion of the project to include the demolition of a key Route  66/National Old Trails Road feature—a landscaped median and distinctive long 90 degree curve in the route’s/road’s footprint  (See Declaration of Ruth Musser-Lopez on July 31, 2015).   No avoidance, data recovery or other impact alleviation mitigation measures have been prescribed to lessen the significant adverse impact upon these significant and important historic properties.

In itself, the modifications of a two lane rural road to turn it into a four lane federal interstate connector corridor highway is a characteristic in itself that would require that the project be reevaluated as a Class I or III project and not as a categorical exclusion under NEPA.    Under your 23CFR771.117(d)(1) regulatory scheme this project is NOT a “modernization” of an EXISTING highway by “adding turning lanes.”  The new project design adds entire lanes, not just turning lanes, to a two lane road that was not intended to be a “highway” when it was constructed.

The significant modifications were made to the project after the Categorical Exclusion (CE) was certified by Aaron Burton which certification characterized the project as a CE under 23 CFR 771.117d(2) "Highway safety or traffic operations improvement projects including the installation of ramp metering control device and lighting.”  Since the project has expanded to involve the demolition of significant historic properties adjacent to the original Area of Potential Effect footprint, then the project has changed.   

The project has expanded according to the new project engineering maps to become a “highway project of four or more lane on a new location” that would require an Environmental Impact Statement (see 23 § 771.115  (a) (2)). 

Further, modifications to the project were made after the final Project Design was submitted and as late as January of 2015.  These modifications are controversial and the project was controversial from the start, as early as 2007 when these and other plans were being considered.  The controversy of the project should have been a clue to you that this project does not qualify as a Categorical Exclusion.  There are now significant numbers of people from all over the country who are protesting the I-40 Interconnect project as designed because it will result in the demolition of numerous significant historic structures and features included in both the footprint of Route 66 itself and adjacent visual features and historic structures.  



(4) New construction or extension of a separate roadway for buses or high occupancy vehicles not located within an existing highway facility.

(b) Class II (CEs). Actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant environmental effect are excluded from the requirement to prepare an EA or EIS. A specific list of CEs normally not requiring NEPA documentation is set forth in § 771.117(c) for FHWA actions or pursuant to § 771.118(c) for FTA actions. When appropriately documented, additional projects may also qualify as CEs pursuant to § 771.117(d) for FHWA actions or pursuant to § 771.118(d) for FTA actions.

(c) Class III (EAs). Actions in which the significance of the environmental impact is not clearly established. All actions that are not Class I or II are Class III. All actions in this class require the preparation of an EA to determine the appropriate environmental document required.  

[See 52 FR 32660, Aug. 28, 1987, as amended at 74 FR 12529, Mar. 24, 2009; 78 FR 8983, Feb. 7, 2013]

The Federal Highway Administration must also comply with the California Environmental Quality Act when funding projects in California.   Under CEQA, 14 Cal Code Regs 15301 provide for an exemption for “…minor alteration of existing public or private structures, facilities…” however there is a limitation as the exemption only applies to activities involving “negligible” or “no expansion of previous use beyond that existing at the time of the lead agency’s determination.”  

These are examples of what might be exempt:  interior or exterior repairs and alterations, facilities used to provide public utilities services; rehabilitation of structures; small additions; conversion of a single-family residence to office use; division of residential or commercial units into condominiums; addition of safety or health protection devices; maintenance of certain facilities to protect fish and wildlife resources; maintenance of existing highways, streets, sidewalks, gutters and trails (including road grading for public safety_ unless the activity involves removal of a scenic resource; installation of a steam sterilization unit in an existing medical facility; and use of a single-family residence as a small family day care home.    This I-40 project does not fit within the scheme of any of these categorical exemptions nor is there any statutory exemption that the project might fall into.

The guidelines specify that the listed examples are not all-inclusive and that the ‘key consideration” in determining whether this exemption applies is whether the project involves “negligible” or “no expansion” of an existing use (14 Cal Code Regs Sec. 15301).   Clearly, the fact that the project now expands the roadway in some segments form two lanes to a new four lane interconnect highway in a new location is the trigger for reevaluating the project under CEQA as well.  



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