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Desert Protective Council files lawsuit against Ocotillo Express wind project

Today the Desert Protective Council is filing a lawsuit in Federal Court in San Diego to stop the Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility Project (OWEF) from causing damage to fragile desert lands in western Imperial County, adjacent to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the largest state park in the U.S.

The lawsuit, naming the Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, the County of Imperial, California, and the Project Permittee, Pattern Energy of La Jolla, CA as defendants, alleges that the Secretary violated the right-of-way provisions of the Federal Lands Policy Management Act (FLPMA) when he approved the Project.

The lawsuit further alleges that the Secretary acted illegally when he approved amending the 1980 California Desert Conservation Area Plan (CDCA), and when he ignored the requirements of NEPA to explore all reasonable alternatives and to take into account the cumulative impacts of this project. The lawsuit alleges that Imperial County ignored the requirements of CEQA, as well as County ordinance standards relating to noise intended to protect nearby residents from excessive noise that will disturb their peace and interrupt sleep.

The suit alleges also that both the Secretary and the County failed to take adequate measures to protect the endangered Peninsular Bighorn Sheep and the protected golden eagles that inhabit the 12,400-acre site where the Pattern Energy plans to build 112, 450-ft. tall turbines. The lawsuit asks for an injunction to halt construction of the Project.

The Desert Protective Council (DPC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit membership organization. Founded in 1954, the DPC’s mission is to safeguard for wise and reverent use by this and succeeding generations those desert areas of unique scenic, scientific, historical, cultural, spiritual or recreational value and to educate children and adults to a better understanding of the deserts.

DPC will be asking the District Court to resolve this matter as soon as possible so that the already started construction activities can be halted in order to prevent additional irreparable damage to natural resources and to the Native American cultural landscape. The California Environmental Law Project of Mill Valley, California represents DPC in this litigation.