Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this



“Pattern Energy is going to pollute what it couldn't destroy… Monsanto’s Roundup is an herbicde cousin  to Agent Orange--the defoliant sprayed in Viet Nam that harmed a generation of veterans and their children… This herbicide—a neurotoxin--is going to get carried downwind. Did Pattern fail to notice that there is still a community with children here in spite of its industrialization of the area with 112 turbines and a substation?”

By Linda Ewing, Ocotillo resident

Photo: Sahara mustard, a “weed” the BLM wants to eradicate with toxic herbicides

May 14, 2013 (Ocotillo) -- Herbicide Mitigation? What is that? I heard these two disturbing words and felt panic.

I knew instinctively that it was going to have something to do with this Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility because nothing good has come from this controversial project since the day Pattern Energy uttered its first words of deception to the town of Ocotillo. Since the day the company first tried to convince us that its massive 438 foot-tall industrial-sized wind turbines were good for the economy.  And yes, the very same day we realized that human lives were disposable and irrelevant in the statistical world of giant wind turbine developers.

I had to know. Why would a wind turbine project need herbicides? This had to be related to the Environmental Impact Report that Pattern Energy first blinded this community with and it definitely had to do with the off-site mitigation efforts that needed to be performed. What does all of this mean? Are you confused? Let me put it into simpler terms.

When Pattern Energy decided to sell this project to the El Centro County Board of Supervisors, the company had to make it look good. What better way to make a shady controversial project look good than to throw a bunch of money around to various organizations, promise a bunch of jobs, albeit short term lasting six months or less? But yes, Pattern could use these nonsense promises to candy coat the dire circumstances and ugliness that would foreshadow this project. Money has a way of making people look the other way when, in fact, they should be scrutinizing the subject matter. But that is exactly what Pattern Energy couldn't let happen.

Scrutiny would reveal distorted facts, figures, and outright deception. So throw the money around—big, significant amounts to local charities and organizations that would trade their morality and ethics and become puppets for the wind turbine developers, endorsing a project that they knew nothing about with words that would help destroy the very land they lived around, land that had sustained generations of Indians, formed their heritage and then eventually became their burial grounds.

Pattern Energy couldn't make it obvious that they were going to come in and rape and destroy this desert valley in a way that no amount of flash flooding from Mother Nature could do.  Pattern Energy called this desert valley a wasteland that just begged for a huge industrial wind turbine project to be built on it. Pattern claimed it had wind data to support this theory. But remember, Pattern didn't want scrutiny. So Pattern threw the money. Threw the true facts into the wind, forever lost on deaf ears. 

The true environmental impacts are huge and irreversible. Destruction on such a massive scale that it involves thousands of acres of desert valley and all of its wildlife and plants. Not the wasteland that the developers want you to believe it is. If you looked closer you would have seen the desert in bloom with the beautiful desert flowers in colors of orange, purple, blue, white, pink, and red. You would have seen the Ocotillos in bloom with their beautiful orange flowers that sustain a plethora of wildlife migrating from Mexico to all points north from butterflies to Western Tanagers to Golden Eagles to Bighorn Sheep. So Pattern Energy has to produce a report on how they plan to destroy these thousands of acres of land, its heritage, its wildlife, and its existence in something called an Environmental Impact Report, better known as an EIR.  EIR sounds benign, doesn't sound evil, so it's easier to sell the destruction.

Once destroyed, you can't put it back, or mitigate it, meaning fix it.  How are they going to "fix" all this destruction? They can't. You know it, they know it.  So to offset all this destruction why not sell another goody basket to make this massive Industrial Wind Turbine project look more appealing? What could BLM, or Fish & Wildlife possibly need so desperately that would make them agreeable to all this destruction to the very land they had been granted the honor of being the custodians of; to protect and preserve for future generations to enjoy its natural beauty?

What made them sell out the preciously guarded Public Lands for mass destruction? Money. Lots of money.

You can't just pay them outright to look the other way. That's payola and that makes people look in your direction, not away from you. That's the very scrutiny Pattern is trying to avoid. So Pattern Energy picks something totally unrelated to the desert valley they are going to rape, something that would cost a lot of money to do and something BLM and Fish & Wildlife would never have enough money for, but something that they absolutely wished could happen. So the developers needed to pick something cost prohibitive to The County to offset the massive destruction and any scrutiny this would bring and yet at the same time be something The County felt was beneficial monetarily, which only means that it cost the developers a lot of money to fix something The County wanted fixed.

This is called off-site mitigation. Translated, it means "fix something else, somewhere else, that costs a lot of money and pay for it all." That way the money is subtly paid to the agencies while no one was looking.

Interestingly enough, this off-site mitigation manifested itself as the destruction and removal of the tamarisk bush. Supposedly this tamarisk was inadvertently carried here by construction trucks having the seeds on their tires; supposedly this is a non-native species that doesn't belong here, and supposedly getting rid of all the tamarisk in the desert valley will bring back the natural water resources that these bushes were sucking out of the sand and stealing from other plants and wildlife that really needed it. These allegations sure sound convincing right? Are you looking at the tamarisk, or at the project?

It's hard to stay focused. Just what the developers wanted. So the destruction of the tamarisk in every valley, every wash, every waterway from Jacumba to Ocotillo takes place. They run it over, they pull it out, they burn it. They think they've eradicated the tamarisk and, they've saved the non-existent water, and they've paid for it all. Their off-site mitigation is complete. The developer looks like a hero, the tamarisk is gone, everyone is high-fiving on a job well done, and they can now begin their destruction of the desert.  Why not? Everyone is still looking at the tamarisk eradication. Good thing they were because guess what?

It came back. Tamarisk is like that. It's a very tenacious plant that has learned to adapt to its environment, a plant that sustains other life with its blooms for the bees and their honey, for butterflies, for the foliage for birds to hide from prey, for the greenery that shows its alive, not dead as the desert they claim is a wasteland, remember?  So now what do they do? This can't happen. This is exactly the type of scrutiny they don't want. If they lied about this, what else did they lie about? So the tamarisk must go. But what's left after everything else that was done?

Herbicide mitigation.  Yep. Get the picture now? They couldn't kill it, so they plan to spray it with Roundup to stop it from growing. 

Who are they kidding? Is Roundup selective? Does it know it is only supposed to kill the Tamarisk and nothing else? Seriously?

Monsanto’s Roundup is an herbicide cousin to Agent Orange, the defoliant sprayed in Viet Nam that has harmed a generation of veterans and their children. Roundup has been linked to Parkinson’s disease, cancer, infertility and more. 

Pattern Energy is going to pollute what it couldn't destroy. Remember the water that was supposedly being sucked up by the tamarisk? They are now proposing to pollute that precious water - intentionally! 

Wow. This is a lot to take in. But it's still not the whole picture. Oh no. Not by a long shot.

There's another problem that had the audacity to try and grow in this vast wasteland - and this problems name is the Saharan Mustard Weed (Brassica tournefortii). It's ironic that the developers called this a wasteland yet now they want to spray everything that grows with an herbicide!

I prefer to think that plants spread by natural means, meaning disbursement through the birds and from the seeds they have eaten. But the developers have found a new way to harm the community yet once again. They have devoted a 41 page EIR to eradicating this invasive plant. Yep. Impacting the Environment once again and hoping nobody will notice. It's even titled Weed Management Plan.

What the heck is a weed? By definition, something unwanted, right. Something that is in a place that no one wants it to be, right? I think that the huge and massive turbines in my yard on three sides are definitely in the category called "weeds" and well worth eradicating. But let's get back on track.

Have they forgotten that this is a region where desert wildflowers in bloom draw tourists – the lifeblood of a desert town’s economy? Not to mention nurturing the souls of this region’s beleaguered residents, whose views of mountains are now marred by towering turbines. Are we to be denied the slightest glimpse of beauty? And what of the wildlife that grazes on “weeds” sprayed with herbicides?  Are we to lose our endangered Bighorn Sheep and other animals, too?

Of gravest concern, this herbicide—a neurotoxin--is going to get carried downwind. Did Pattern fail to notice that there is still a community with children here in spite of its industrialization of the area with 112 turbines and a substation?

I guess it's not enough to bombard this community with the electromagnetic field of electricity, or the flashing red lights at night, or the incessant sound of the unbelievably huge turbine blades as they pass the turbine towers creating a sound equal to Blackhawk helicopters hovering over my house, whomp whomp whomp whomp whomp whomp.

The never ending sound comes from all of the towers, creating a pressure wave of displaced air each time a blade swipes the tower, wave after wave after wave coming from three directions around my house making me feel dizzy, making my ears ring, making me feel as if things aren't quite right but I can't put my finger on what the problem is.....yet.

Herbicide mitigation?  Yes.  I'm definitely scared.



Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility Weed Environmental Assessment


Roundup is more toxic than declared


Safety and environmental considerations for the use of herbicides to control invasive plants


Roundup more toxic than officially declared (new study)


Ethoxylated adjuvants of glyphosate-based herbicides are active principles of human cell toxicity


Scientists find dangerous hidden ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide


Roundup is not safe to eat


Roundup more toxic than glyphosate


Press release: European network of scientists


Inert ingredients in glyphosate herbicides are toxic, too


Roundup, an herbicide, could be linked to Parkinson’s, cancer and other diseases


Watch for Agent Orange Symptoms – California Dept. of Veterans Affairs warns


The views in this editorial reflect the views of its author. To submit a reader’s editorial for consideration, contact

Error message

Support community news in the public interest! As nonprofit news, we rely on donations from the public to fund our reporting -- not special interests. Please donate to sustain East County Magazine's local reporting and/or wildfire alerts at to help us keep people safe and informed across our region.


Agent Orange correction

"Agent Orange," one of several color-coded tactical "defoliant" chemical weapons, was a 50-50 mixture of 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and 2,4,5-Trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T). Both were developed during the 1940s. 2,4-D is still used in many commercial and household weed killers, especially for use on lawns, cereal crops, and pine plantations because it affects broadleved plants but not grasses or conifers. 2,4,5-T was removed from the market in the late 1970s because it was almost inevitably contaminated with toxic dioxins which formed during the manufacturing process. The active ingredient in Roundup is called Glyphosate. It has only been in use since the 1970s.  Glyphosate affects most plants, although Monsanto has developed some transgenic crops that resist it, which has created a booming market for the chemical. This comment is intended only to clarify those points.