An Alameda County Superior Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit against wind-farm operators in the Altamont Pass that claimed windmill operators had violated state law by killing migratory birds in the area.
Judge Bonnie Sabraw ruled Thursday the operators were not in violation of the states unfair competition law because the Center for Biological Diversity, which filed the suit in 2004, did not lose property or money. The center had claimed the birds were part of the public trust and therefore wildlife property of the public.
According to a study released in 2004 by the California Energy Commission, an estimated 1,700 to 4,700 birds die each year by flying into whirring turbine blades or being electrocuted by transmission lines that thread through the 50,000-acre Altamont Wind Resource Area. Those deaths include golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, burrowing owls and other protected species.
The center was seeking restitution for environmental damage caused by the turbines and future mitigation measures to protect raptors in the future.
Richard Wiebe, attorney for the center, said he believes an appeal will be filed because the ruling is not in agreement with previous California Supreme Court rulings.
Earlier this month, Alameda County supervisors approved the initial phase of a monitoring system to study what impact the Altamont windmills have on birds. The board unanimously approved the $610,000 six-month program after hesitating in July to support a $3 million three-year plan to monitor bird deaths in the Altamont.
By Chris Metinko, Medianews Staff
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