READER’S EDITORIAL TERRA-GEN’S CONTROVERSIAL CAMPO WIND TURBINE PROJECT APPROVED BY DEPT OF INTERIOR OVER STRONG OBJECTIONS OF IMPACTED TRIBAL MEMBERS

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Decision bypasses Campo’s tribal regulations and land use planning protections: Legal challenges are in the works

By Donna Tisdale, President of Backcountry Against Dumps

April 9, 2020 (Campo and Boulevard, California)-- Against strong opposition, including many tribal members, the Department of Interior just approved the Record of Decision (ROD) for Terra-Gen’s controversial Campo Wind project with 60-586 ft tall 4.2 megawatt (MW) turbines on Campo Tribal lands in rural San Diego County.

These turbines are taller than the tallest skyscraper in San Diego and twice as powerful as existing Kumeyaay Wind and Tule Wind turbines that already generate nuisance level adverse impacts for neighbors! To add insult to injury, the ROD was signed by the Assistant Secretary, which means we lose the right to appeal that approval.

Legal challenges are in the works.

Campo Wind is opposed by neighbors as well as by a qualified number of voting Campo Tribal members, but Campo leaders have ignored two valid tribal petitions: 1) to terminate Campo Wind ; 2) to remove their leadership for failing to hold the vote to terminate[1]. Turbines are planned far too close to homes and offices and can restrict the number and placement of new homes for current and future residents.

Campo’s elections are set for April 17th, with strong hope that leaders will be voted in who will act to better protect their people and resources, and to stop Campo Wind dead in its tracks.

Previously, the equally controversial 600-acre Campo Landfill was terminated by a tribal vote years after it was approved by the feds, and after the developer, Mid-American Waste Systems, faced federal Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization charges related to numerous projects.

Our rural residents are in a serious David v Goliath battle with allegedly corrupt tribal leadership and the project developer, Terra-Gen that is owned by Energy Capital Partners, a private equity firm with some $19 billion in energy sector holdings. In 2019, Terra-Gen announced the acquisition of all of Canadian Utilities fossil fuel-based electricity generation assets, which were valued at $621 million[2]. How green is that? Not that wind turbines are green either. They are over-hyped and given a free pass while communities are forced to defend themselves at their own cost from multi-billion dollar players.

Campo Wind is predicated on the timing of the availability of Production Tax Credits (PTC) that ends soon. The wind industry is currently trying to get tax-payer funded PTC extensions or direct payments included in COVID-19 funding. The PTC and energy investment tax credit are reportedly the most expensive government expenditures in energy, and will grow to more than $9 billion next year and more than $60 billion by 2029.

Campo’s former Chairwoman, Monique La Chappa, wrote a letter to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) on March 10, 2020 that included the following statement:

“…This project is not beneficial for Campo Tribal Members and future generations to come. A Tribal petition was circulated requesting a meeting to stop Campo Wind already. The Chairman held the meeting but refused to recognize the motion on the floor without reason violating our rights as a democratic government. When it comes to this type of behavior I am questioning the actions of the Chairman and hopefully someone at the BIA will question and investigate. Our people have come together on this matter and clearly do not want this project don’t let actions of one override the many. There are many other violations of our rights regarding the actions of our Executive Council and this project. For the record I am strongly opposed to Campo Wind Project…”

According to the Final Environmental Impact Statement and several tribal members, the controversial Campo Wind agreement with Terra-Gen bypasses or waives most of the Campo Band’s tribal regulations, land use zoning, and land use plans and allegedly grants exclusivity to former Chairman Goff and current Chairman Cuero for the working relationship with Terra-Gen, bypassing the General Council, and failing to keep them informed. Complaints have been raised over the lack of transparency and tribal meetings held on this project.

Rural communities have long been the dumping ground for destructive projects like Campo Wind (and sexually violent predators). Today’s massive wind turbines generate electrical interference and significant pulsing acoustic pressure waves that can travel for miles, passing through buildings and bodies. Dozens are planned adjacent to my own family’s home and many others.

The acoustic pressure waves, professionally documented at homes impacted by existing turbines, can be audible or inaudible. They can act as a heart jammer; disrupt sleep, trigger vertigo, increase anxiety, and more, resulting in cascading adverse health effects and reduced quality of life for those who are unlucky enough to live near them. We already have wind turbines in our community and know what they do to people and property values - contrary to the industry’s false and self-serving denial of harm. Even liberal leaning Humbolt County Supervisors listened to their constituents and voted to deny Terra-Gen’s proposed Humbolt Wind project in late 2019[3].

Shadow Flicker from massive 230 ft blades, approximately 20 revolutions per minute, will extend out over homes and properties within 6,750 ft or more, for up to 200 hours per year for some. Even the Final Environmental Impact Statement admits that the following impacts for our predominantly low-income and Environmental Justice communities will be Adverse and Unavoidable: Socioeconomic Resources; Noise; Visual Resources; Cumulative.

Our non-profit hired independent experts whose research concluded that Terra-Gen’s consultants originally used the wrong noise monitoring equipment, under-represented the significant noise impacts, and failed to pump test groundwater source wells, where locals rely solely on wells, especially when the same tribal leadership had previously allowed those same source wells to basically be pumped dry.

Our experts also generated more representative visual simulations showing what turbines will look like from homes and offices. The Environmental Impact Statement also cited old and invalid research that applied to much smaller wind turbines (1-2MW), not the massive 4.2 MW turbines proposed for Campo Wind, thereby significantly under-representing their project’s impacts on public health and safety.

The FAA Office of Evaluation map shows the Campo Wind turbines proposed south of I-8 as: “Red: Hazard- cases that exceed obstruction standards and/or have an adverse effect upon navigable airspace or air navigation facilities”. And DOD Long Range Radar map shows: “Red: Impact highly likely to Air Defense and Homeland Security radars”. Apparently, Terra-Gen lobbied effectively to overcome these very real hazards.

We are not alone, communities around the globe are fighting back to defend themselves from industrial wind.

For more information on the adverse impacts of massive wind turbines on adjacent neighbors and resources, go to www.windaction.org  and  www.wind-watch.org. See Campo Wind project information and maps at www.campowind.com .

*Backcountry Against Dumps is a small grassroots 501(c) 4 public interest non-profit based in Boulevard, CA. We  incorporated in early 90’s to defend rural resources and fight the Campo Landfill proposed on the Campo Reservation and the La Posta Recycling Center, proposed on the La Posta Reservation, that was actually a hazardous waste incinerator project that planned to accept hazardous waste from both sides of the US/Mexico border.

Thankfully, those projects never got built!

The opinions in this editorial reflect the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. To submit an editorial for consideration, contact editor@eastcountymagazine.org.

 


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Comments

Expose this green industry's fake research and you win

For green energy corporations and investors, rigging peer reviewed research and avoiding science, has been the MO used to dupe trillions from taxpayers for a worthless green energy industry. That’s why the public still doesn’t know that wind energy couldn’t possibly exist without other energy sources running the grid, that electric cars have nothing to do with wind, that all green energy being sold is really energy from other sources, and fake green research has been hiding tens of millions of bird fatalities annually.

Rigging numbers has been incredibly profitable for this Enron based industry and that’s why they do it. This industry’s “Green Energy” impact research is a perfect example. This research is supposed to be used to compensate for residual negative effects on biodiversity. But by rigging this research and getting others like Audubon and universities to never question it, has saved this industry in America hundreds of billions in offsetting mitigation.

If communities really want to stop these wind energy scammers, pass ordinances that require real research. Otherwise be ready to challenge the fake research and drag them into court. The reasons, all "their" (Industry and Interior Dept) research with its strict gag orders for employees, are designed to hide wind energy's horrific impacts. Communities should never let developers sell them a project and then con you again with their "standardized" but fraudulent research.

When the public hears the word research, they assume that researchers are seeking out the truth. This is not the case with wind industry developments. With this green industry, pre-construction, post construction research and mitigation have all been an orchestrated fraud. It’s very easy to prove and if the Interior Department chose to do so, they could shut this industry down today. But this will never happen because this branch of government has been one of the gatekeepers for this massive green industrial fraud.

This leaves communities stuck to fend for themselves. Communities can file lawsuits that expose this industry’s fake research or laws can also be passed that require accurate research or accountability. Wind energy developments rely on two types of research, preconstruction and post construction research. Both types of research are needed to determine projected impacts to regional species and post construction research is conducted that will supposedly document actual impacts to species.

But legal actions in the hands of the wrong attorneys will be money wasted, So choose wisely. They will take you money, cut a secret deal with your enemy and make sure you lose. Those reading this, would not believe the attorney based slime and back stabbing I have come across in the last few years.

Since there is no science and  government agencies have not and will not enforce any legitimate wind energy research, I have put together some post construction research guidelines that if enforced, can stop this cycle of wind energy fraud. If communities insist on these guidelines and do not let developers dictate their own post construction methodologies, the true devastation from wind energy projects can be revealed. These guidelines will also mean that projects will be cancelled because the last thing developers want is for the truth and this industry’s decades old mortality impact fraud to be documented.

The truth of this industry’s true impacts will also send offsetting mitigation for these destructive projects, into the stratosphere.

With these simple guidelines, ethical officials involved in the approval process, can cross check with wind developers and any USFWS study proposals to determine the presence of corruption. If planners do not see anything close to these conditions in post construction proposals, then they will understand that studies for the project will be fabricated.

I specifically wrote these guidelines below for the Humboldt County Supervisors last June, but they apply to every community.

Wind energy developers Post construction research is a fabricated nonscientific charade......... 1) The words Independent researchers actually refers to insiders that will go along with the industry’s nonscientific industry study protocol. From past research it can be shown that they cannot be trusted or are unqualified. They must never be hired unless you can watch them with camera surveillance 24 hours a day and treat them as if they were casino employees.

2) In order to maintain the scientific integrity of any mortality research, post operational studies shall never allow wind personnel, USFWS agents, lease holders or anyone else except independent researchers, to handle, move or touch carcasses. All past wind industry studies have allowed this and that's why about 60,000 eagle carcasses sent to the Denver Repository since 1995, have never been accounted for.

3) All scanning for carcasses will require researchers to use a reasonable and ethical attempt to find carcasses. Besides the less frequent intense formal searches 1 ½ times out from maximum turbine heights, turbine sites shall be scanned for carcasses twice a day. This takes just a few minutes and the industry knows it. Scanning for large carcasses or even mid-sized carcasses the size of a cooper’s hawk is relatively easy with the aid of binoculars. This scanning shall include all areas out at least several hundred yards from turbine towers.

4) During studies, every carcass or wounded species found must be photographed and this information disclosed to the public. In addition, this disclosure will apply for all special status species for the operational life of the wind project. This includes every carcass, picked up by USFWS agents, state wildlife agents and cripples picked up by animal rescue personnel. This way the public will be aware of all the totality of the endangered and special status species being killed by the projects wind turbines.

5) If during studies, wind personnel must visit any turbine sites for their work related duties, they must first check with researchers so they know they are aware of their presence and can keep an eye on them.

6) To further assist in the integrity of the post operational research, 24 hour surveillance including remote cameras will used in open areas around specific turbine towers and roadways. This coverage will not only aid researchers of scavenger removal, it will act as a deterrent against rigging. With this industry, remote camera images and videos have a history of disappearing, so if any of this coverage disappears or is found to have been tampered with, there should be very severe consequences.

I have many other suggestions pertaining to ethical scientific research but I wanted to make sure all planners can easily understand that nothing close to these conditions will be proposed in any of this industry's fake Post Operational studies. Instead of these conditions, post operational research protocol will use words like standardized methods, approved, in accordance with USFWS guidelines, in collaboration with state and federal experts, and so on.

All planners must keep in mind that with wind energy research, science has been missing for over 3 decades and has been replaced with corruption. But if you require accountability and stop the research rigging you can easily stop these carpetbagging fraudsters.

Lastly for those that do not know, the Humboldt wind project with its 600 ft turbines that would have been spinning at 300 mph, was cancelled. Had it not been, legal challenges were going to expose the fraudulent research and opinions submitted on behalf of this project.

What about Wildlife?

Don't forget the death wreaked upon Raptors from these killing machines. No Eagle, Owl, or other Bird of Prey is safe or exempt from the killing blades. At least David Bittner will no longer be the "Biologist" giving these projects a green light as "safe" for hundreds of thousands of dollars. So sad this is happening against the will of almost all living near these monsters. "Clean" energy kills, wind or solar.

rooftop solar = solution, corporate capitalism = problem

They are indeed massive wildlife choppers, and going bigger and bigger with turbines just shows a complete lack of imagination, or care for nature or the residents for that matter. There exist designs of turbines that are very small and very powerful, being applied by the military in remote areas, for example. But the businesses have a hard time competing with the energy monopolies and the permits from the sociopaths in the DOI and similar GOP ilk now heading up our environmental "protective" agencies. Not all alternative energy is bad, obviously; it goes awry when you throw in corporate capitalism and profit motive being the only driver, to hell with ethics or the common good or even ingenuity. Imagine how much money homeowners would save, how many small businesses could thrive, not to mention wildlife spared, if we made rooftop solar affordable for everyone, and incentivized, instead of the big power companies building monstrosities where they are unwanted, and making profits while charging taxpayers more and more. Really makes you wonder why those same taxpayers in east county keep electing the same immoral Republican politicians who support these monopolies while giving the finger to middle class and small businesses, and smiling all the way to the bank.

The foundation for "clean energy" is quicksand

These systems all depend 100% on our fossil fuel based energies. They draw power from grids. They burn up power from other renewable systems. They create chaos in grids. They cause standby power to be used more thus more CO2 anyway. CO2 IS NOT A PROBLEM. It's recycled naturally. The foundational arguments of "saving the planet" require inspection which has repeatedly shown that carbon dioxide "greenhouse gas" does NOTHING to trap heat and this is repeatedly stated the primary reason to build these things by all the sales pitches. Water vapor is the only cause of atmospheric change along with convection and the heat from the Sun and the cooling from frigid space, that is it, all other sources are insignificant.