Court rejects enviro bid to block San Diego wind farm

Source: Jeremy P. Jacobs, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, June 9, 2016

A federal appeals court yesterday rejected a challenge from environmental groups to a large wind farm project east of San Diego.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that the Interior Department adequately weighed the environment impacts of Tule Wind LLC’s project.

Groups including the Protect Our Communities Foundation and Backcountry Against Dumps were challenging the agency’s 2011 environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act, as well as the proposed project’s impact on migratory birds.

They contended that Interior should not have granted the right of way on more than 12,000 acres of federal lands in McCain Valley, about 70 miles east of San Diego.

However, the three-judge, San Francisco-based 9th Circuit panel deferred to Interior, upholding a lower court ruling in its favor.

They held that Interior had taken the requisite “hard look” at the project’s environmental impact, as required by NEPA.

In particular, they noted that Tule Wind had originally proposed a large project with 128 wind turbines that would generate 200 megawatts of electricity.

Ultimately, Interior approved a project with 33 fewer turbines that generated 186 MW — about enough to power 65,000 homes and businesses.

Interior also required the placement of some of those turbines to be moved in an effort to protect birds.

Click here for the opinion.