By Miriam Raftery
August 9, 2012 (Ocotillo) -- Ove 360 million acres of public lands are targeted for industrialization with renewable energy development. Among the first of these large-scale projects is Ocotillo Wind, a 12,500 wind project now under construction just over the San Diego-Imperial County line on the border of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park that has left horrified residents convinced this is anything but green.
"Ocotillo is the beginning--and must be the end. San Diego mountains and wilderness are next for destructive energy projects," reads a flyer that asks the public to join in a "Take a Stand in the Sand" event on Saturday, August 11 at 7 a.m.
Indeed, today San Diego Supervisors voted to approve the Tule Wind project in McCain Valley, the first of several industrial wind projects proposed in San Diego's East County.
People opposed to the industrialization of public lands will meet at the Ocotillo Community Center Park at 7 a.m. Directions: From I-8, exit S-2/Imperial County Highway (Ocotillo/Desert Parks exit). Go north on S-2. The park is about a mile north of Ocotillo on your right.
Organizers want the public to help "save these beautiful places" and send these messages to political leaders:
- Stop destroying public lands for priate profits by big energy corporations
- Stop desecrating Native American sacred sites and entire cultural landscapes
- Stop endangering health and safety of residents. Infrasound is dangerous.
- Stop the wind scam. Stop the bulldozers.
- Stop killing our wildlife. Protect their habitats--and our peace and quiet.
- Stop killing our children's heritage. Public lands should be protected for us all.
Residents of Ocotillo also object to Governor Brown's recent statement that opposition to big energy projects must be "crushed." Their flyer observes, "We are the people! We will not be `crushed.' "
The project would place over 100 wind turbines, each over 450 feet tall with a bladespan the size of a football field, less than 1500 feet from homes. Residents fear noise, health problems from infrasound and stray voltage, and loss of the peaceful solitiude of the desert. Many object to the developer, Pattern Energy, receiving take permits to kill Bighorn sheep lambs and ewes. Native American tribes also object to desecration of their ancestors' graves.
Residents have endured dust, noise, night construction lighting, and flooding from the project that left a chemical residue on household lawns. The Bureau of Land Management, which owns the federal preserve, has turned a blind eye also to violations of the Environmental Impact Report, such as roads built three times wider than allowed, destroying vast swaths of desert habitat for animals such as burrowing owls and kit foxes.
"We must stand together to save Ocotillo," their flyer concludes.
Opponents of the wind project believe there is a better way to meet our region's power needs. "Solar on rooftops and parking lots is cheaper, cleaner and faster," the flyer states.
High temperatures are forecast for this weekend. If you attend, bring plenty of water, as well as food, hat, sunscreen and folding chairs. Organizers also ask that you bring vehicles if possible, as well as posters opposing the destruction and supporting rooftop solar.
Click here to download a flyer that you can post or forward to friends.
For more information and to RSVP, call Terry Weiner, Desert Protective Council, at 619-342-55234.
If you want to carpool from the San Diego area as a rider or driver, e-mail at email@example.com.