Ocotillo Express Wind Facility

QUECHAN NATION MOURNS ANCESTORS IN OCOTILLO

 

By Miriam Raftery

January 28, 2014 (Ocotillo) – Tribal members from the Quechan nation traveled by caravan to Ocotillo on January 17 and 18 to mourn the desecration of their ancestors’ burial grounds by the Ocotillo Express Wind Farm. Tribal members met at the Ocotillo Community Center and staged a run carrying a banner reading "We want respect for our ancestors' remains" to the wind site, where they held an all-night mourning ceremony for their ancestors.

Pattern Energy's industrial wind facility was built  atop lands known as “Valley of the Dead” by Native American tribes for over 10,000 years. The Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians also objected to the desecration of ancestral remains and persuaded the California Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC) that the state should take action on their behalf, but those efforts were thwarted by California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

JUDGE GRANTS PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO MOVE OCOTILLO WIND LAWSUIT FROM FEDERAL TO STATE COURT

 

By Miriam Raftery

May 20, 2013 (Ocotillo) – Federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel has granted a motion filed by citizens’ groups to remand a lawsuit over the Ocotillo Express Wind Facility from federal court back to state court.

Plaintiffs Donna Tisdale, Protect Our Communities Foundation and Backcountry Against Dumps hailed the decision.

“Since Ocotillo Express operation started in late 2012, residents complain of adverse impacts from noise, vibrations, electrical interference, shadow flicker and light pollution. People, pets and wildlife are suffering while the project’s wind production is far less than advertised,” a press release issued by plaintiffs states.

NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE COMMISSION DECLARES OCOTILLO WIND A SACRED SITE, ASKS ATTORNEY GENERAL TO WEIGH LEGAL ACTION

 

“I really want to say `Dismantle it and give the land back to the tribes…I’d like to ask the Attorney General to…give this commission more teeth so we could say `Tear that wall down.”  -- Commissioner Marshall McKay

View video highlights by Paul Kruze: http://youtu.be/nS93BfT6juI

  (For full unedited videos, scroll to bottom of this story)

By Miriam Raftery

April 26, 2013 (San Diego) – At a hearing in San Diego on Monday, members of the state Native American Heritage Commission heard several hours of emotional testimony from Native Americans who contend that the  U.S. Bureau of Land Management ignored their  concerns and its duty to protect a clearly documented sacred site and cemetery in the fast-tracked approval process for the Ocotillo Express Wind Facility.

By a 4-0 vote, with the remaining commissioners absent, the NAHC voted to grant requests by Viejas and Quechan tribes to declare the 12,400 acre Ocotillo wind project site a sanctified Native American  sacred site.  Further, the commissioners voted unanimously to ask California Attorney General Kamala Harris to research if legal action can be taken.

JUDGE GRANTS INJUNCTION TO PROTECT PHOTOGRAPHER AFTER THREATS BY PATTERN ENERGY’S PROJECT MANAGER AT OCOTILLO WIND

Update March 16, 2013: A second restraining order has been granted to Jim Pelley, the other ECM photographer threatened by Pattern Energy's manager, Russell Graham.

By Miriam Raftery

March 7, 2013 (El Centro)—Superior Court Judge Richard Bohlander today granted an injunction for civil harassment relief  to protect freelance photographer Parke Ewing following a violent threat made by Russell Graham, construction manager at Pattern Energy’s Ocotillo Express Wind Facility.

Ewing’s photos and videos of the project have appeared in East County Magazine as well as on his own Facebook Page and a website documenting the project’s impacts on the desert and the community.

JUDGE RULES IN FAVOR OF FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND PATTERN ENERGY IN TWO LAWSUITS OVER OCOTILLO WIND

By Miriam Raftery

March 2, 2013 (San Diego) -- U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel this week dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Quechan Indians over cultural resource impacts of the Ocotillo Express Wind Facility.   In addition, the federal judge denied  motion sought by the Desert Protective Council to protect raptors at the site.  

"It is discouraging that our democratic system of checks and balances has broken down in relation to the administration's determination to usurp our public lands for industrial energy development,” said . Terry Weiner, Imperial County Projects and Conservation Coordinator at the Desert Protective Council. “  If we can no longer count on the courts to force our federal agencies to adhere to their own laws, how  are the American citizens supposed to protect our national natural and cultural heritage for future generations?"

ECM FREELANCE PHOTOGRAPHERS INTERVIEWED ON NATIONAL WIND-WISE RADIO SHOW OVER OCOTILLLO INCIDENTS

 

February 13, 2013 (Ocotillo) -- Photographers Jim Pelley and Parke Ewing were interviewed Sunday on the national "Wind Wise" radio program regarding the Ocotillo Express Wind Facility. Russell Graham, construction manager at the Pattern Energy project, was arrested last week for allegedly making violent threats against the photographers and attempting to wrestle a camera away from Ewing.

The freelance photographers' videos and photos have been featured extensively in East County Magazine, documenting environmental destruction and raising serious questions about limited winds at the project. The Sheriff's office has indicated it would request filing of felony charges in the case, which is currently under review by the District Attorney. A restraining order has been issued against Graham, whose violent threat against Ewing was caught on the audio portion of a video recording.

Listen to the radio interview here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/windwise/2013/02/11/ostrander-point-and-ocotillo-express

Hear more Wind Rise programming here: http://www.windwiseradio.org/