An American Indian tribe has filed a federal lawsuit against the Interior Department in an effort to stop what would become California’s largest wind farm on public land.
The lawsuit filed late yesterday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California in San Diego by the Quechan Tribe of the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation says the proposed wind project’s 112 turbines would cause “irreparable injury” by destroying “culturally and visually significant lands and resources.” It accuses the Bureau of Land Management of essentially ignoring the tribe’s concerns.
The lawsuit comes just days after Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed a record of decision (ROD) authorizing San Francisco-based Pattern Energy Group LP to build the Ocotillo Express Wind Energy Facility on more than 10,000 acres of BLM land in Southern California’s Imperial County (Greenwire, May 14).
The Quechan Tribe, which wants a federal judge to throw out the ROD and to order a temporary injunction blocking construction until the lawsuit is resolved, has scheduled a news conference today in front of Pattern Energy Group’s offices in La Jolla, Calif., to announce their action.
The ROD Salazar signed Friday approved a scaled-down version of the project proposal that proponents say sought to avoid culturally significant landmarks. BLM consulted with as many as 14 area American Indian tribes and cut more than 2,200 acres from the project boundaries after an extensive archaeological and cultural survey uncovered numerous ancient tribal artifacts and sacred locations.