Lawsuits against the controversial renewable energy project consisting of 112 wind turbines east of Ocotillo seem to keep piling up.
The latest lawsuit was filed Tuesday by the Community Advocates For Renewable Energy Stewardship against the Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Land Management and the project’s owner, Pattern Energy.
This lawsuit calls for injunctive relief to stop construction of the Ocotillo Express Wind Energy Facility, while claiming the project lacked the necessary legal requirements when obtaining the federal right-of-way.
Community Advocates For Renewable Energy Stewardship is a group of community members who have a stake in the project and are being directly affected by it, said attorney William Pate, who represents the association.
The primary allegation is the BLM is not following its own regulations, Pate said. The environmental impact statement and the record of decision lack the required topographic maps, he said.
This is also the case for the so-called engineering and design packages, Pate said.
The documentation that is allegedly missing can be used to verify the amount of land disturbance based on the exact locations and dimensions of turbines, access roads, electrical lines and other facilities.
“This is the worst set of planning documents I’ve ever seen,” Pate said.
Furthermore, the lawsuit also alleges that the wind resources in the area are below BLM standards.
“The BLM illegally amended the California Desert Conservation Area Plan to allow wind energy development in an ineligible area without the required wind resources,” the lawsuit reads.
“We are trying to get everything prepared to seek a temporary restraining order and we are hopeful that that will happen next week,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Desert Protective Council, which about a month ago filed its lawsuit alleging that mitigation plans for the area’s ecology are insufficient, is gathering evidences “and looking for possibilities to get into court sooner rather than later,” said Terry Weiner, Imperial County DPC projects coordinator.
A similar lawsuit filed by the Protect Our Communities Foundation is also pending.
So far, opposition groups have been unable to halt the project, which is under construction and expected to be completed sometime in 2013.
A previous request for a temporary restraining order against the project’s construction was denied to the Quechan Indian Tribe in May.
Tribes claim the project permanently affects cultural and archaeological resources and that the process lacked so-called meaningful consultation.
On the other hand, supporters list the millions in revenue and the jobs the project will create as reasons for standing behind it.
About $442 million in revenue will come to the county over the life of the project, according to an independent report.
Pattern Energy didn’t comment on the lawsuit or the allegations due to company policy.
All-night wake to take place in Ocotillo
Homage for the disruption of Native American burial sites will be held in the form of a vigil Saturday evening near Ocotillo.
The “all-night wake” begins at 7 p.m. and ends Sunday at dawn.
Ceremonies will be held about two miles north of Ocotillo Community Park, which is located on Imperial Highway. Directional markers and signs will be placed nearby.
All tribal nations are welcome and traditional attire is encouraged.
Ceremonies will be open to public viewing but restrictions on video recording and photography will apply.
Food and water will be provided.
Staff Writer Alejandro Davila can be reached at 760-337-3445 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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