Ocotillo

THIRD LAWSUIT FILED OVER OCOTILLO EXPRESS WIND

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.


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JUDGE DENIES QUECHAN TRIBE'S REQUEST FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER TO STOP OCOTILLO EXPRESS WIND PROJECT


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ECM EDITOR ON “WIND WISE” RADIO SHOW


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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.


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SUIT FILED TO HALT OCOTILLO WIND AS COALITION HOLDS PROTESTS IN SAN DIEGO AND EL CENTRO

 

“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.


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CHIEF GHIO SERIOUSLY INJURED IN MOTORCYCLE CRASH

 

Updated May 14, 2012

May 13, 2012 (Spring Valley) --Just four days before his retirement from San Miguel Fire Department, Chief August “Augie” Ghio has been seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. The crash occurred this morning in Ocotillo Wells on State Route 78 east.


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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.


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EDITORIAL: SUPERVISORS SHOULD DENY PATTERN ENERGY APPLICATION FOR OCOTILLO EXPRESS WIND

By Miriam Raftery, Editor, East County Magazine

April 23, 2012 (Ocotillo) – In San Diego earlier this month, the county's planning commission heeded concerns of residents, environmentalists, tribes and health experts who voiced alarm over harmful impacts of industrial wind turbines. Planners voted to postpone enacting a wind ordinance and more fully study the issues. Their remarks made clear that most planners had serious reservations about potential impacts on human health, wildlife, cultural resources, environment, character of rural communities and public lands. http://eastcountymagazine.org/node/9354

This was not the case with planners in Imperial County, who ignored a mountain of evidence as well as legitimate community concerns. Their zeal to rubberstamp a project that promises tax revenues and temporary jobs, along with renewable power, clearly came at the expense of public health and safety, protection of resources on public lands, and the long-held rights of Native Americans. http://eastcountymagazine.org/node/9173

Imperial Valley Supervisors should reverse their planning commission’s decision and reject Pattern Energy’s proposed Ocotillo Express wind project.  Here are compelling reasons why.


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WHO IS PATTERN ENERGY?

 

By Miriam Raftery

April 23, 2012 (Ocotillo) – The wind industry has been likened to the wildcatters during the oil boom – risk takers seeking out ever more land on which to extract energy to fuel our nation’s power demands.  While some energy companies have made efforts to be good corporate citizens, profits in the energy industry have attracted some players of dubious integrity. (Remember those ENRON traders caught on tape boasting about defrauding grandmothers?)

Thus it’s important for decision makers weighing whether or not to approve major energy projects to consider, among other factors, the ethical record of the project applicant.

Pattern Energy seeks to build the Ocotillo Express wind facility on Bureau of Land Management property in Imperial County.  It also has an application pending for a wind project in the Kitchen Creek area near Campo, in San Diego County.


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PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: CITIZENS FIGHT BACK AGAINST OCOTILLO WIND PROJECT

 

May 17, 2012 (Ocotillo) –Robert Lundahl spotted these signs posted by residents and environmentalists, who are mobilizing to inform the public about negative impacts of the proposed Ocotillo Express wind energy facility.


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PHOTOS OF THE MONTH: DESERT BIGHORNS

April 12, 2012 (Ocotillo) – “My wife, Mary, and I had the pleasure of seeing a large group of bighorn sheep while we were on one of our desert wildflower trips,” Robert Baran says.

They photographed a group of 15 or more Peninsular Bighorn Sheep on Saturday, April 7 between Meyer Creek and Ocotillo.  


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SOLAR DONE RIGHT SUPPORTS LOCAL ALTERNATIVES TO REMOTE MASSIVE ENERGY PROJECTS

Coalition seeks to protect public lands, launches “Energy Democracy” sign-up
 
It is currently cheaper, on a per-watt basis, to install a small rooftop system in Germany than it is to install a giant desert installation in the US.
 
By Ariele Johannson
 
April 9, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)--Driving through the southwestern deserts, I’ve long been impressed by the ocotillo, a cactus-like tree with straight branches angling upwards to the sun, ablaze with red blooms. This thorny desert tree is an apt metaphor for the ways different people view energy issues-- especially proposed industrial solar and wind power projects in remote wilderness areas. Like the ocotillo, these programs and policies have a wide array of angles from which to be viewed.

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WIND STORM: PLANNERS APPROVE OCOTILLO WIND-- IGNORE SERIOUS HEALTH AND SAFETY ISSUES, ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS, COMMUNITY AND TRIBAL CONCERNS

Part IV in our series on the Ocotillo Express Wind project, which would feed electricity into SDG&E's Sunrise Powerlink bound for San Diego.

By Miriam Raftery

“Jobs are temporary but the destruction of our desert is forever. All of this culture and history will be lost…all in the name of greed.” – Linda Ewing, Ocotillo

“This is an economically important project for our community.”—Katie Figari, Chief Executive Officer, Brawley Chamber of Commerce

March 29, 2012 (Ocotillo) – A conditional use permit, height variances and mitigation were approved by an 8-1 vote yesterday at the Imperial Valley Planning Commission meeting.

Planners, wooed by the applicant’s estimate that $150 million in tax revenues will flow into county coffers over the project’s 30-year-life, along with a  projected 350 construction jobs and at most 20 permanent jobs, opted to ignore the very grave concerns voiced by tribal leaders, environmentalists, health workers and many residents. Those concerns include dangerous and destructive potential of the project, as well as federal fast-tracking that has trampled long-held rights of residents and tribes.


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WIND STORM: POTENTIAL RISKS TO RESIDENTS FROM 20-SQUARE-MILE WIND PROJECT PROPOSED FOR OCOTILLO

 

Part III in our exclusive report on the proposed Ocotillo Express Wind project

By Miriam Raftery

March 27, 2012 (Ocotillo)-Ocotillo resident Jim Pelley dreads the prospect of the 456-tall wind turbines that may soon surround his home on three sides-some less than half mile away. 

Whirling blades, each weighing many tons, would be placed atop an active earthquake fault area capable of a 7.0 quake or more.  Fire danger, groundwater impacts, noise, electromagnetic sound waves and ground current are among the potential perils that he fears.

“Our quiet little town of Ocotillo with pristine views of the mountains will be destroyed forever. In return, we have to deal with the possibility of some serious adverse health effects and many other serious problems,” Pelley, an award-winning photojournalist and engineer, told ECM.   


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WIND STORM: WHISTLEBLOWER ALLEGES GAG ORDER PREVENTED STATE PARK EMPLOYEES FROM REVEALING HARM TO ANZA-BORREGO DESERT STATE PARK FROM PROPOSED OCOTILLO EXPRESS WIND PROJECT

Part II in ECM’s exclusive report on the Ocotillo Express Wind project, a joint investigation with ABC 10 News. (See the 10 News portion of this investigation, a report on environmental impacts of the project here:   10 News text: http://www.10news.com/news/30776233/detail.html; 10 News video: http://www.10news.com/video/30776306/index.html)

“To have the Governor’s office tell our park officials NOT to comment on Ocotillo,  OR ANY OTHER alternative energy projects adjacent to the Park, is a travesty, a violation of the trust between the citizens and the state.” – Mark Jorgensen, retired Superintendent, Anza Borrego Desert State Park in an e-mail to ECM

 “These allegations are not true.   No such directive came from the the Governor’s Office or the California Natural Resources Agency saying that State Parks could not comment on the Ocotillo Wind Express Project. “ -- Richard Stapler, Deputy Secretary for Communications, California Natural Resources Agency

By Miriam Raftery

March 27, 2012 (Anza-Borrego) – The former Superintendent of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (ABDSP) has contacted East County Magazine to allege a cover-up by the State Parks Department and the Governor of serious impacts that the proposed Ocotillo Express wind project would have on our largest state park and its natural resources.  The proposed wind project shares a five-mile border with ABSP and if approved, would erect up to 155 wind turbines each 456 feet tall—some just yards from the park.


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WIND STORM : TRIBES IMPLORE PRESIDENT OBAMA TO STOP OCOTILLO EXPRESS WIND PROJECT, SAVE CULTURAL RESOURCE SITES

 

“We believe that DOI [Department of the Interior] is poised to violate the law and our rights to religious freedom and our cultural identities guaranteed by DOI’s own policies, the United States Constitution, and international declarations. We need your help.” --Chairman Anthony Pico, Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, in a letter to President Barack Obama

Part I in an ECM special report series on potential impacts of the Ocotilllo Wind Express project

By Miriam Raftery

March 23, 2012 (Ocotillo) – For months, Ocotillo residents and conservationists have been waging a David and Goliath battle seeking to stop Pattern Energy’s proposed Ocotillo Wind Express project. Now Kumeyaay, Cocopah,Quechan and other Native American tribes have banded together to oppose the massive project-- joining residents, desert conservation groups and outdoor enthusiasts who seek to protect resources from destruction—including hundreds of cultural and archaeological sites. 

On March 28, the Imperial Valley Planning Commission will rule on whether to approve the controversial project, which would generate power for San Diego County.  At the federal level, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior  is expected to issue a final decision  by May 1.  A petition seeking to stop the project has been launched by Ocotillo residents:  http://www.change.org/petitions/say-no- ... y-project#.  


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ADVOCATES OF ROOFTOP SOLAR RAISE VOICES IN PROTEST OVER INDUSTRIAL-SCALE DESERT SOLAR AND WIND PROJECTS

  

Story by Terry Weiner and Miriam Raftery

Videos by Jim Pelley

March 15, 2012 (Holtville)--Early Wednesday, rooftop solar activists and desert conservationists from Imperial Valley and San Diego County  convened outside the Barbara Worth Resort—site of the Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation's three-day Renewable Energy Summit and Expo.

Protesters oppose tax credits going to giant energy companies and called for similar incentives to help property owners put solar on their roofs. They also objected to their viewpoint being excluded by conference coordinators. Participants voiced concerns over negative impacts of industrial-scale wind and solar projects. In some cases, wind turbines have been abandoned, left as rusting blights on the landscape. Other concerns include destruction of habitat for wildlife, noise, health impacts, loss of agricultural lands, and destruction of recreational areas on public lands.


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JACUMBA: A TOWN SURROUNDED

 

How many massive energy projects are too many for one rural community to absorb?

“They want to put these all out here, because we’re throwaway country people.” – Howard Cook

By Mia Myklebust and Miriam Raftery

February 16, 2012 (Jacumba) – Walking along the shores of Lake Jacumba, it’s clear that Howard Cook has big dreams for his community.  Chairman of the Lake Restoration Committee, he has wrested a pledge from the Audubon Society to restore the once-dry lake.

“We want to have fishing, boating, and recreation,” he says.  Cook is working with others who dream of “making this another Taos—art, wildlife, hiking, Indians and birds.”

But there’s trouble on the horizon.  Multiple industrial-scale wind and solar farms soon stand to surround this tiny town, jeopardizing its most cherished natural treasures. Sites include publicly owned recreation lands, notably a spectacular scenic gorge known to locals as “our Grand Canyon,” Cook points out.

Jacumba is a proverbial canary in the coal mine—a warning of what other publicly-owned preserves and rural communities across America may soon face. 


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GOLDEN EAGLES FACE EXTINCTION IN U.S. AS NUMBERS PLUMMET, NEW STUDIES REVEAL

“Wind farms are the main cause. The issuing of license to kill will accelerate the decline toward extinction.”—Save the Eagles International

 An East County Magazine Special Report

By Miriam Raftery

January 6, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – San Diego County’s 48 pairs of nesting golden eagles and even rarer bald eagles could be in peril if proposed industrial-scale wind farms are built.  In a press release issued today,  Save the Eagles International (STEI) issued a dire warning, providing detailed documentation proving  that golden eagles and their nests are disappearing rapidly near wind farms across the U.S.

The group also blasted the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for changing its mission from protecting wildlife to “catering to the interests of an industry” that is a “ruinous one to boot.”  


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ADVENTURES IN LEARNING - ANZA-BORREGO DESERT STATE PARK – DECEMBER 2011


December 4, 2011 (Anza Borrego)Winter is a beautiful time to visit our desert region. The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is offering a series of interpretive events in December to help you explore the area’s many wonders. Options include hikes to hidden canyons and caves, bird watching walks, lectures on paleontology and archaeology, animal tracking, a sunset/moonlit hike, and much more. Scroll down for a complete list of activities and links to register.

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CABLES STRUNG ACROSS ROADS IN OCOTILLO BY POWERLINK HELICOPTERS ENDANGER OFF-ROAD VEHICLES, MOTORCYCLIST CONTENDS

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

October 9, 2011 (Ocotillo) – ECM has received photos and an e-mail from Jim Pelley, a motorcyclist who reports finding metal cables strung two feet off the ground across roadways in Ocotillo frequented by off-road vehicle enthusiasts.

 

The cables were attached to an SDG&E helicopter “pulling cables from tower to tower,” Pelley reports.”This is a serious situation and I am worried that someone will not see this cable and a serious accident will result with either the off road vehicle or the helicopter.”


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BLM TO HOLD PUBLIC MEETINGS AUGUST 10 ON DESERT SOLAR PROJECTS

July 27, 2011 (El Centro) -- The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will hold two public meetings August 10 as part of an environmental review of the proposed Ocotillo Sol solar energy project in Imperial County.

 


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SDG&E AND PATTERN ENERGY SIGN CONTRACT FOR 315 MEGAWATTS FROM NEW WIND ENERGY FACILITY


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LOCAL DESERT RACING SEASON ABOUT TO KICK INTO GEAR


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6 BIG DESERT SOLAR PROJECTS GET UNWELCOME HOLIDAY SURPISE: NATIVE AMERICAN GROUP FILES SUIT AGAINST BLM FOR FAILURE TO CONSENT

December 28, 2010 (Blythe, CA)-- La Cuna de Aztlan Sacred Sites Protection Circle, a Native American cultural protection group, filed a lawsuit yesterday in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, challenging the Bureau of Land Management permitting processes regarding six large solar facilities planned for the Mohave, Sonoran and Colorado deserts of Southern California (Case No.10CV2664 WQH WVG), including an Imperial Valley Solar project slated to hook up to SDG&E’s Sunrise Powerlink.


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CHP: DRIVER WHO STRUCK MOTORCYCLES NEAR OCOTILLO HAD NO ALCOHOL IN BLOOD; WILL NOT FACE CHARGES

 

Fund established to help Trayer family; blood drive planned Saturday for injured victims
 

By Miriam Raftery
 

November 15, 2010 (Ocotillo) –The odor of burned rubber still hangs heavy in the air along Highway 98 east of Ocotillo, where five people lost their life in a horrific crash on Saturday. A lone bouquet of flowers in the sand serves as a silent memorial to four members of the Lakeside Saddle Tramp Club and a car passenger who died at the scene.


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VICTIMS IDENTIFIED IN OCOTILLO MOTORCYCLE CRASH


Driver of car that hit motorcycles may face charges; 2nd driver in gold Honda Civic still sought

November 15, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) – Four members of the Lakeside Saddle Tramps motorcycle club who were killed Saturday afternoon near Ocotillo have been identified by the club president, Carl Smith. Lance Heath, 43, and his wife, Amy, 36, of Alpine, died, as well as Bill Miller, 57, or Ramona and Tonya Trayer, 37, or Lakeside. Smith told the Union-Tribune that he tried to resuscitate Trayer for several minutes, but “there was nothing we could do.”


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5 DEAD, 6 INJURED IN OCOTILLO CRASH, INCLUDING 4 MEMBERS OF AN EAST COUNTY MOTORCYCLE CLUB

 

Authorities seek driver who fled scene after crossing line, causing collision

Update Nov. 14:  Authorities now say that the driver who fled the scene was in a gold Honda Civic

 

November 13, 2010 (Ocotillo) – A horrific pileup today included seven motorcycles from Lakeside’s Saddle Tramps club and two other vehicles.  The crash left five dead, including at least four East County residents, and injured six others.

 

According to the CHP, a car crossed the center line on State Route 98 seven miles east of Ocotillo around 1 p.m., attempting to pass a group of motorcyclists. A  sedan veered to avoid a head-on collision with the car, then struck several motorcycles.


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QUAKE RATTLES EAST COUNTY

 

May 18, 2010 (San Diego's East County) -- An earthquake centered 12 miles southeast of Ocotilllo in Imperial County was felt throughout San Diego's East County and the region.

 

The quake hit around 5:39 this evening and was first reported as a 5.1 magnitude, however the U.S. Geological Service later downgraded it to a 4.5. 

 

No damage has been reported. The quake is likely an aftershock from the powerful 7.2 earthquake centered in Mexico on Easter Sunday.


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