SAN DIEGO – The Ensenada-based environmental group Terra Peninsular is suing the Mexican environmental protection agency for approving San Diego-based Sempra Energy’s Sierra Juarez wind project.
It argues the agency can’t properly evaluate the environmental impacts without knowing exactly where the wind turbines will be located. The company called the lawsuit “baseless”.
A federal judge in Mexico accepted the lawsuit in late April, potentially setting a precedent. Under a recent change in Mexican law, third parties can now sue the federal environmental protection agency, SEMARNAT in court. In the past, such complaints were considered administrative procedures and reviewed by the agency.
The first phase of the Sierra Juarez wind project would produce 156-megawatts of energy – enough to power 65,000 homes – and would be located in an area just south of the U.S.-Mexico border and about 70 miles east of San Diego.
Future phases could cover a wide swath of Baja California’s Sierra Juarez mountain range.
Terra Peninsular’s complaint is based on the lack of detail concerning where the wind turbines would be located. Saúl Alarcón, executive director of Terra Peninsular, said SEMARNAT couldn’t possibly gauge the potential impacts of the project without knowing where the turbines would stand.
Sempra’s project area includes forest and desert ecosystems that harbor a wide variety of species, some of them sensitive.
“I mean we’re talking about a polygon that is bigger than San Diego County,” Alarcón said.
Terra Peninsular holds a conservation easement on one of the land parcels included in the project.
In a statement, Sempra Energy said it “is confident that the courts will find that SEMARNAT conducted a complete and thorough analysis of the project.”
If the entire project is built, it could potentially provide about 1,250 megawatts of energy to Southern California, enough to power more than one million homes.
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