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Environmental groups sue BLM over approval of wind energy project right-of-way

Three environmental groups have sued the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM ) over the agency’s approval of a right-of-way for a wind energy project near Bakersfield, California. Sierra Club v. Kenna, No. 2012-00974 (E.D. Cal. filed 4/13/12). The Sky River Project would consist of approximately 100 wind turbines on 12,781 acres of private land and an access road, transmission line and fiber-optic communication right-of-way across BLM -administered public lands. In December 2011, BLM granted North Sky River Energy LLC the right-ofway across public lands to be used for the project’s construction and operation and the transmission of energy to the power grid.

According to the complaint, BLM ignored the environmental impacts of the wind development project and thereby violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEP A) and the Endangered Species Act (ES A). Instead, according to plaintiffs, the agency looked only at the impacts of improving and using the access road, transmission line and fiber-optic communication line right-of-way and on that basis made a “no effect” determination for impacts on listed species under the ES A and a “finding of no significant impact” under NEPA.