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Desert News

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

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Every week we scour dozens of sources to bring you the latest environmental news for the Desert Southwest. Click a date above to read that day's edition. Want your news included? Email us.

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Suits Against Ocotillo Wind Project Dismissed by Judge

Judge Gonzalo Curiel, a U.S. District Court judge, has dismissed two legal challenges to a wind energy project outside the small desert town of Ocotillo, CA.

Desert Protective Council spearheaded a lawsuit disputing a 10,000 acre right of way for the wind plant, granted by the Bureau of Land Management, as well as related amendments made to the California Desert Conservation Area.

A second suit filed by the Quechan tribe of the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation, which traces its ancestry to the wind project area, criticized the archaeological surveys, and alleged that the tribe was not adequately consulted, as required under Federal Law.

Judge Curiel rejected these claims and wrote, “The BLM’s decision to grant the right of way ... was reasonable as it considered all relevant factors and provided an analysis that presented a rational connection between the facts found and the conclusions it made based on relevant law.”

Developed by Pattern Energy, the Ocotillo wind plant contains an array of 94 turbines, with another 18 to go up this spring, and forms a crescent around the small community on the western edge of the Imperial Valley. When finished the project will provide a maximum of 315 megawatts of power to San Diego Gas and Electric.

Desert Protective Council is weighing an appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals out of concern for the California Desert Conservation Area, created in 1980 and spanning 12 million acres of public land.

Terry Weiner, DPC’s Imperial County Projects Coordinator states, “It is discouraging that our democratic system of checks and balances has broken down when it comes to the administration’s determination to usurp our public lands for industrial energy development. If we can no longer count on the courts to force federal agencies to abide by their own laws, how are American citizens supposed to protect our national natural and cultural heritage for future generations?”