A temporary restraining order against a 112-wind-turbine project set to be built east of Ocotillo was denied by federal judge, a county official said Wednesday.
This decision comes more than a week after the Quechan Indian Tribe filed suit against the Department of the Interior for awarding a right-of-way to the project’s developer.
Environmentalists and some Ocotillo residents have been opposing the project along with Native American tribes.
Tribes say the project permanently impacts cultural and archaeological resources, that mitigation efforts are insufficient and that the whole process lacked so-called meaningful consultation.
The decision denying the temporary restraining order to Pattern Energy’s wind energy project was issued Tuesday in San Diego, said Armando Villa, director of the Imperial County Planning Department.
The judge deemed that enough had been done to protect cultural resources, he said.
With this ruling, construction of the industrial wind farm is expected to continue.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed in the decision,” said John Bathke, Quechan Tribe historic preservation officer.
The judge seems to find a memorandum of agreement between the Bureau of Land Management and Pattern regarding how to deal with archaeological remains to be sufficient, Bathke said.
Unfortunately, tribal governments aren’t a required signatory party on the memorandum of agreement, he said.
Bathke also said tribes were “rushed to offer comments on this memorandum of agreement,” and that even when comments and corrections were made, “we do not agree to the mitigation (plans).”
“Tribal governments, in the legal sense, are not really a party to this MOA,” he said.
“We are pleased with the court’s decision,” said Mike Garland, Pattern’s chief executive officer in a written statement, adding, “this vital renewable energy facility is bringing up to 370 jobs to Imperial County and creating a significant new source of clean energy for Southern California.”
But even when the temporary restraining order was denied, the tribes are still pursuing a full injunction, and this, Bathke said, is a longer and “heavier” process
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