A fourth lawsuit was filed this week against the Ocotillo Wind Energy Project (OWEP). Community Advocates for Renewable Energy Stewardship (CARES) filed the latest lawsuit to stop the massive, industrial-scale wind turbine development in the fragile Southern California desert in U.S. Southern District Court on June 20.
The lawsuit seeks to halt construction of the project, arguing that the U.S. Interior Department, U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the developer, Pattern Energy, violated various provisions of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and the California Desert Conservation Area Plan (CDCAP).
Similar lawsuits have been filed with the same court by the Desert Protective Council (DPC) and the Laborers’ International Union of North American, Local Union No. 1184 (LIUNA); as well as the Quechan Tribe of the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation and the Protect Our CommunitiesFoundation. All of the lawsuits are currently pending.
The Ocotillo Wind Energy Project is a massive development consisting of 112 wind turbines, each standing 450 feet tall, with a blade sweep that is longer than a football field. The project is located on more than 10,000 acres of public land in the Ocotillo Desert east of San Diego, in Imperial County.
The area is the traditional ancestral landscape of the Kumeyaay, Quechan and Cocopah Indians of Southern California. Archeologists have designated the area as a “mega site,” with tens of thousands of artifacts. More than 200 Native American cultural resource sites have been identified in the area, including ancient villages, more than a dozen cremation sites, geoglyphs, pictographs, and more. The wind project has been opposed by the Kumeyaay, Quechan and Cocopah. In addition, the Southern California Tribal Chairman’s Association, representing 19 Southern California tribes, passed a resolution opposing the project in October 2011.
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The mission of the Desert Protective Council is to safeguard for sustainable use by this and succeeding generations those desert areas of Southern California that are of unique or significant scenic, scientific, historical, spiritual, and recreational value, and to educate both children and adults to a better understanding of the desert.