SAN DIEGO – The Quechan Tribe of the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation sued the federal government Monday and demanded construction of a large wind turbine facility near Ocotillo stop before it starts.
On Tuesday, the tribe filed a federal temporary restraining order against the project and held a protest outside the offices of Pattern Energy, which had its Ocotillo Wind Energy Project approved by the U.S. Department of Interior May 11.
Quechan Tribal President Keeny Escalanti said outside Pattern’s La Jolla offices that new, sacred cremation sites have been found on the project site.
“There is just so much out there in that particular area they just haven’t had time to proceed through the proper process,” Escalanti said.
“There’s no way they can avoid these sacred objects that are out there.”
The Ocotillo Wind Energy Project is more than 12,000 acres, but Pattern Energy said just 122 acres would be used for the 112 turbines it plans to put there. The rest would be untouched, according to Pattern and the Department of Interior.
The Department of Interior declined to speak about the litigation Tuesday. A press release put out last week references changes made to the project to meet concerns of tribal leaders and people who live nearby.
Pattern released a statement which said, in part, “We have designed the Ocotillo Wind Project to minimize impacts on cultural and environmental resources. We are committed to building the Project in a responsible manner and bringing jobs and economic development benefits to the Imperial Valley,” adding, “We believe the project has the support of many local residents, county officials and Native Americans who respect the efforts we’ve made on this project.”
Escalanti compared what Pattern plans to building on Arlington National Cemetery.
“Take your project,” he said, “Take it elsewhere. We don’t need it here.”
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