By Miriam Raftery
June 9, 2012 (San Diego) – By a unanimous vote, San Diego's Planning Commission voted Friday to deny Iberdrola Renewables’ application for five 492-foot-tall wind turbines on private land under county jurisdiction.
The proposed turbines were part of the Tule Wind project, which also includes 62 turbines on U.S. Bureau of Land Management property in McCain Valley, seven turbines on state property, and 18 on Ewiiaapaayp tribal lands. To date, only the federal portion of the project has been approved.
“The Tule Wind decision was precedent setting in that turbines were denied on private land in the Boulevard area and the plan amendment was denied,” said Donna Tisdale, chair of the Boulevard Planning Group. “Today’s decision also bodes badly for Enel Green Power's Jewel Valley wind that is proposed for about 7,000 acres both north and south of I-8."
By: Miriam Raftery
June 13, 2012 (Ocotillo) – Why hasn’t the Bureau of Land Management taken steps to protect Ocotillo area residents from clouds of dust in an area with high rates of childhood asthma and where soil reportedly contains potentially deadly Valley Fever spores?
Despite numerous complaints including photos and videos of dust billowing up from construction activities at Pattern Energy’s Ocotillo Express wind energy site, the apparent health hazard continues.
How Kathy and Gene Dolphin walk their talk every day
June 11, 2012 ( Norwalk, CT) -- Dear EarthTalk: I own a small business and would like to do what I can to minimize its impact on the environment. Can you help me? -- Jacob Levinson, New York, NY
June 8, 2012 (Spring Valley) – Victory Gardens San Diego is offering a 3 session basic gardening course on June 9, 16 and 23 from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. in Spring Valley. The course teaches about garden tools, garden siting considerations, testing and developing good soil and composting.
Public asked to join with tribes on June 23
“The snake was moved but kept coming back, just like our people. We will continue to keep coming back.” – Preston Arrowweed, Quechan elder. He believes unusual animal visitations at site are signs from Indian spirits, asking his people to help.
By Miriam Raftery
Jim Pelley, Denee ‘Estevane’ Woolley, and Susan Massey also contributed to this report
June 7, 2012 (Ocotillo)—Neither blistering heat nor blowing dust dissuaded Native Americans from at least four tribes from taking part in a five-day occupation in Ocotillo last week.
They came to be with the spirits of their ancestors. They also aim to show that desert devastation occurring with construction of the Ocotillo Express wind facility is wrong and must be stopped.
By Sierra Robinson
June 1, 2012 (San Diego's East County)--It has been proven that ground-based wind turbines can result in issues such as environmental damage, noise and visual blight. But Altaeros Energies has brought an intriguing alternative to the table.
Altaeros has announced a breakthrough in high altitude wind power. In April, the company reports that it tested a successful prototype of a flying wind turbine, able to lift a standard Skystream turbine 1000 feet into the air--and produce far more power with the blades aloft.
Free class to be held this Saturday, June 2 at Water Conservation Garden
By Sierra Robinson
May 30, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) -- Imagine plucking a ripe tomato off your roof, or filtering rainwater through your driveway. Green roofs and permeable pavement can make all of that a reality.
This weekend, the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College is offering a free class from 9-11am about how and why you can install a green roof or permeable pavement at your home or business.
May 27, 2012 (Ocotillo) –The Protect Our Communities Foundation, Backcountry Against Dumps, and Donna Tisdale of Boulevard are suing the Imperial County Board of Supervisors and Pattern Energy.
The lawsuit, filed in California Superior Court in Imperial County, seeks to halt construction of the Ocotillo Express wind facility. Plaintiffs allege that Supervisors’ approval violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and that the Final Environmental Impact Report failed to analyze off-site or distributed generation alternatives such as rooftop solar.
Two other suits have been filed by the Quechan Indians and Desert Protective Council, both citing destruction of cultural and natural resources as a key issue. The latest legal action goes farther, also citing threats to the health and welfare of residents, among other serious impacts.
Vermont’s latest energy statute expands its statewide Clean Local Energy Accessible Now (CLEAN) Program and removes program cap for projects with locational benefits to the power grid.
May 26, 2012 (Montpelier, Vermont)– On May 18, Vermont’s Governor Shumlin signed into law the 2012 Energy Bill, which contains a groundbreaking acknowledgment of the locational benefits of distributed generation and more than doubles the amount clean local energy that will be brought online through the state’s CLEAN program. Similar programs could well be applied in places such as San Diego to encourage locally-generated rooftop solar and other local power as alternatives to massive industrial-scale energy projects and high-voltage transmission lines running long distances.
JUDGE DENIES QUECHAN TRIBE'S REQUEST FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER TO STOP OCOTILLO EXPRESS WIND PROJECT
By Miriam Raftery
May 23, 2012 (San Diego)—Dashing hopes of tribal members hoping to halt destruction of the desert and desecration of the ancestor’s graves, United States District Judge William Q. Hayes has denied a temporary restraining order sought by the Quechan Indians to halt the Ocotillo Express wind project.
During a hearing Friday in San Diego, Quechan’s attorney told Judge Hayes that applicant Pattern Energy effectively argued that for a renewable energy project to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), all that’s required is to study the impact—not to take action to address impacts found by the study “no matter what it shows, even if not one living thing would survive on the land.”
May 21, 2012 (San Diego) – Five San Diego County transmission projects are among 30 identified transmission projects needed to maintain grid reliability that were approved by the California Independent System Operator Corporation Board of Governors in the 2011/2012 Transmission Plan. The local projects are:
A podcast tape is now available to listen, if you missed the show: http://www.windwiseradio.org/2012/05/fighting-for-feathered-friends-sun-52012-7pm-et/
May 20, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Tonight from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, East County Magazine editor Miriam Raftery will be a guest on WindWise Radio. The network, which specializes in wind energy issues, broadcasts nationally via live-stream over the Internet.
Listen live at http://www.windwiseradio.org and call in with your questions and comments at (213)943-3683.
Today’s show will focus primarily in the impacts of industrial wind projects on wildlife and will include concerns raised for wildlife in the Ocotillo and McCain Valley areas, where massive wind projects have been approved by the Bureau of Land Management on public lands where wildlife protections have been severely eroded.
Staff recommends denial of Tule Wind turbines on County lands
By Miriam Raftery
May 21, 2012 (San Diego) – A decision on two controversial wind issues have been postponed by San Diego County’s Planning Commission.
A proposed wind ordinance as well as changes to the Boulevard community plan have been delayed until July 20. In addition, planners heard public comments on the Tule Wind project proposed for McCain Valley, but postponed a decision until June 8, due to the absence of two planners.
Without changes to the wind ordinance, any approval of industrial-scale turbines would violate county height requirements in rural areas. Thus approval of Tule Wind turbines on County lands June 9 appears unlikely.
EUROPEAN UNION’S PUSH FOR WIND ENERGY WITHOUT PUBLIC INPUT VIOLATES INTERNATIONAL LAW, UNITED NATIONS FINDS
SILENCE OF THE LAMBS: U.S. GOVERNMENT AUTHORIZES KILLING OF ENDANGERED BIGHORNS IN PATH OF WIND PROJECT
By Miriam Raftery
May 19, 2012 (Ocotillo) -- In a precedent that has horrified wildlife experts, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has authorized the “take” (meaning harassment, displacement or even death) of 10 endangered Peninsular Bighorn Sheep – five ewes and five lambs.
The decision comes after federal wildlife officials were provided photographic evidence by ECM that the endangered animals were seen in recent weeks on the site of the just-approved Ocotillo Express wind energy facility—a presence federal officials and the project developer have long denied.
The Tree City USA program is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters and the USDA Forest Service.
By Miriam Raftery
May 16, 2012 (San Diego) – On Friday at 2 p.m., a federal judge will consider a temporary restraining order motion filed by the Quechan Indian tribe seeking to halt construction at the Ocotillo Express wind facility site on federal land.
Despite discovery of six more cremation sites with what are believed to be human remains (12 sites total) that federal law requires be preserved, Pattern Energy is moving forward with heavy equipment, destroying vast acreage in the fragile Yuha desert near Ocotillo.
“This is nothing more than a public land grab for private profit. The BLM is literally giving this away to corporations…This may be out in the desert today, but tomorrow it could be in your backyard…Already over a dozen projects are proposed in San Diego and Imperial County.” – Robert Scheid, Viejas media relations
May 16, 2012 (La Jolla) – At a press conference yesterday outside the gleaming corporate towers occupied by Pattern Energy in La Jolla, a coalition of environmental groups, Native American tribes and outraged citizens urged President Barack Obama to stop fast-tracking of massive energy projects on public lands and halt construction at the Ocotillo Express wind facility immediately.
Heavy equipment has begun grading the site, ripping massive ocotillo cacti out by the roots, burying burrowing owl nesting sites and breaking hearts of the many people who love this desert land.
ECM contacted the White House to request an interview with President Obama. No response has been received.
County to offer discounted zero-emission lawn mowers at 13th Annual Trade-In Event
May 15, 2012 (San Diego) -- County residents can roll their old, gas powered lawn mowers down to the County Administration Center this Saturday and come away with new, zero-emission models. The price? The Black & Decker mowers, which normally retail for $400 plus tax, will cost just $99.99.
How did the number of homes powered by the Ocotillo wind project get reduced to just one-fifth of what Pattern has been promising?
By Jim Pelley
May 12, 2012 (Ocotillo)--Pattern Energy does a very good job deceiving the people. For example, all throughout the Ocotillo Wind Energy Project process Pattern Energy has been making statements deceiving the press, public and officials about the number of homes this facility will produce power for. Pattern’s website states: “The project will produce enough clean and renewable wind energy to serve more than 130,000 households a year. http://www.patternenergy.com/media/news/announcements/ocotillo_011312
COALITION OF TRIBES, ENVIRONMENTAL LEADERS & LAWYERS CALL FOR HALT TO "FAST TRACKING" OF MASSIVE ENERGY PROJECTS ON FEDERAL PUBLIC LANDS
“We are the canaries in the coal mine. If this is not stopped here, destruction of millions of acres of public lands across the southwest will likely soon follow.” -- Terry Weiner, Desert Protective Council
By Miriam Raftery
May 11, 2012 (Ocotillo) -- Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today signed the Record of Decision, giving a go-ahead for the contentious Ocotillo Express wind project.
The announcement came just hours after a coalition of environmental leaders, tribal representatives, off-road vehicle users, outdoor enthusiasts, residents and legal spokespersons called for a national moratorium on the "fast tracking" of massive energy projects on federal public lands.
DOCUMENTARY "WINDFALL" SHOWS TONIGHT AT 7 PM: EXLORATION OF INDUSTRIAL WIND IMPACTS ON A RURAL COMMUNITY
"I thought wind energy was something I could believe in. This film suggests it's just another corporate flim-flam game. - Film critic Rogert Ebert
May 10, 2012 (San Diego) A special free showing of the award-winning documentary ‘Windfall,’ an exploration of industrial wind impacts on a rural community, will lbe held tonight at 7 p.m. at the Landmark Theater in Hillcrest. The showing is cosponsored by Backcountry Against Dumps and The Protect Our Communities Foundation.
Hundreds of industrial wind turbines are currently proposed for public, private and tribal lands in East County with 400-800 thousand acres of Wind Resource Area proposed for designation in the County's Wind Energy Ordinance & Plan Amendment DEIR.
By Mia Myklebust and Miriam Raftery
May 10, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – With an increasing number of industrial-scale wind turbines around the world, numerous reports are surfacing to suggest that noise, infrasound and stray voltage (dirty energy) may be harmful to livestock and wildlife.
While evidence is largely anecdotal, incidences of mass die-offs of farm animals, chickens laying soft-shelled eggs, high animal miscarriage rates and disappearance of wildlife near turbines provide pause for reflection. These and other incidents suggest a need for scientific study to determine safety before additional wind energy facilities are erected across the U.S., including several proposed in San Diego’s East County.
By Miriam Raftery
“Our rural East County communities are facing industrial transformation with the potential for hundreds of towering and churning industrial wind turbines surrounding, and looming over, virtually all of our residential neighborhoods and along most of our ruggedly beautiful ridgelines.” – Donna Tisdale, Protect Our Communities Foundation
May 9, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)—The County's Wind Energy Ordinance & Plan Amendment Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) will be reviewed at a special San Diego County Planning Commission Workshop at 9 a.m. on Friday, May 11 at 5201 Ruffin Rd., Suite B. The workshop is a response to Commissioners' request for more information after evidence presented at an April 13 hearing indicated that wind turbines can result in negative health impacts from audible and sub audible noise, vibrations, and dirty electricity/stray voltage.