July 22, 2016

SAN DIEGO, Ca– The Protect Our Communities Foundation (POC) continues its fight to protect Southern California wildlife from poorly cited industrial wind farms by calling on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to hold the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) accountable for permitting the Tule Wind Project without a Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) Permit. Represented by Meyer Glitzenstein & Eubanks LLP, POC petitioned the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today for an en banc hearing on the failure of the BLM to protect birds from certain death in the blades of the Tule Wind Project.

“The Tule Wind Project will be a bird blender and the BLM has snubbed its nose at its duty to protect wildlife by permitting this project in an area of high bird traffic without an MBTA or Eagle Take permit,” said POC’s Executive Director April Rose Sommer. “POC has been fighting for years to protect San Diego’s wildlife from certain death due to ill-conceived industrial scale energy development and continues this fight today.”

The Tule Wind Project is designed to produce less than 200 MW of electricity on over 12,000 acres of BLM, reservation, and state lands in eastern San Diego County. This area of high biodiversity hosts a large breeding population of golden eagles and a wide array of protected avian and terrestrial species. The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that several special status bird species have a “significant risk of mortality” from the Tule Wind Project turbines.

While a panel of 9th Circuit judges denied POC’s MBTA claims last month, the D.C. Circuit made a recent contradictory decision when it held that a similar development, the Cape Wind Project, must abide by the developer’s commitment that it would not construct a wind farm without first obtaining an MBTA permit. POC’s petition calls on the full 9th Circuit to reconsider its decision in the light of the “official position” the federal government took before the D.C. Circuit that the project developer is “obligated under federal law to get a [migratory bird] permit” for the industrial wind farm prior to beginning construction. (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility v. Hopper (D.C. Cir. July 5, 2016).)

“While a transition away from fossil fueled power generation must be a priority for the state of California, we can develop renewable resources in a way that does not threaten wildlife,” said Bill Powers, energy expert and POC Board Member. “This project is a perfect example of how poorly-planned industrial scale renewable energy development can be unsustainable for wildlife and POC calls upon the government to do better.”
The BLM does not deny that the Tule Wind Project will unavoidably kill large numbers of migratory birds. In its environmental review, the BLM concluded that the project will have “unavoidable adverse impacts” on migratory birds and that a number of bird species that use the Tule site, such as raptors and migratory songbirds, routinely fly at heights that will place them directly in the turbines’ vast “rotor swept area” and on a collision course with the turbines.

The Protect Our Communities Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, defends
communities and nature in San Diego County, Imperial County, and northern Baja California.
We advance better energy and environmental solutions through advocacy and law.