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Opponents of Searchlight wind energy project file federal lawsuit

Earlier this month, attorneys filed in U.S. District Court of Nevada what we will call for the sake of brevity Bundorf v. Salazar. (Searchlight wind suit) The suit accuses former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar of acting in "a manner that is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and contrary to law" when he granted permission for construction of an 87-turbine wind farm east of Searchlight on 19,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management land.

A small group of Nevadans has taken up the cudgel used by environmental activists for years to block pipelines, drilling, dams and sundry construction projects - a federal lawsuit based on environmental protection laws - to fight one of the darlings of the environmentalists - renewable energy.

Earlier this month, attorneys filed in U.S. District Court of Nevada what we will call for the sake of brevity Bundorf v. Salazar. (Searchlight wind suit ) The suit accuses former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar of acting in "a manner that is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and contrary to law" when he granted permission for construction of an 87-turbine wind farm east of Searchlight on 19,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management land.

Simulation of what windmills may look it east of Searchlight and near Lake Mohave, home to bald and golden eagle.

The suit alleges the Final Environmental Impact Statement, on which Salazar based his approval, was written by consultants for Searchlight Wind Energy, which is owned by Duke Energy. The suit says the FEIS is a one-sided and an incomplete portrait of the project's adverse environmental impacts.

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A small group of Nevadans has taken up the cudgel used by environmental activists for years to block pipelines, drilling, dams and sundry construction projects - a federal lawsuit based on environmental protection laws - to fight one of the darlings of the environmentalists - renewable energy.

Earlier this month, attorneys filed in U.S. District Court of Nevada what we will call for the sake of brevity Bundorf v. Salazar. (Searchlight wind suit ) The suit accuses former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar of acting in "a manner that is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and contrary to law" when he granted permission for construction of an 87-turbine wind farm east of Searchlight on 19,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management land.

Simulation of what windmills may look it east of Searchlight and near Lake Mohave, home to bald and golden eagle.

The suit alleges the Final Environmental Impact Statement, on which Salazar based his approval, was written by consultants for Searchlight Wind Energy, which is owned by Duke Energy. The suit says the FEIS is a one-sided and an incomplete portrait of the project's adverse environmental impacts.

Those impacts include the potential killing of and destruction of habitat for desert tortoise, bighorn sheep, golden eagles, bald eagles and assorted migratory birds and bats - not to mention the affects on the human residents who have protested and petitioned in opposition to the wind farm and its 428-foot tall whirling wind turbines with flashing red lights atop each one. The Searchlight town board has twice voted to oppose the project.

But the lawsuit does in fact mention the impact on those residents. It says the FEIS cherry-picked literature, some a decade old, to conclude there will be no negative impact on property values. A recent report by Nevada Policy Research Institute found studies by real estate appraisers that conclude properties within two to three miles of wind turbines had values decline up to nearly 60 percent - with the decreased value being "tantamount to an inverse condemnation, or regulatory taking of private property rights."

Duke's Jim Rogers

Additionally, the suit points out the FEIS fails to evaluate the effect turbines might have on tourism. While the statement selectively claimed the turbines might attract 600-800 visitors, it failed to address whether turbines might reduce the 300,000 visitors who currently are drawn to the open scenery and Lake Mohave.

Nor does the federal report acknowledge the impact on Spirit Mountain and the trails through the area that the local tribes consider sacred.

And never mind the physical impact on residents by the turbines, which produce about 58 decibels of noise. The suit notes that as little as 10 decibels can cause annoyance, stress, irritation and sleep disturbance.

Nor does the FEIS explain where the 83 acre-feet of water to construct the wind farm will come from.

When the project was first proposed by Duke Energy, it included turbines on both the west and east of U.S. Highway 95, the reduced footprint now has turbines only to the east of the highway. Sen. Harry Reid, a reputed friend of Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers and recipient of campaign contributions from Rogers, lives west of the highway.

When 550 postcards were sent to Reid opposing the project, he replied with a dismissive letter saying:

"I recognize that the proposed wind project in Searchlight has elicited strong opinions in favor and in opposition from residents and non-residents of Nevada. We are fortunate to live in a state that has sunny skies, strong winds, and abundant geothermal resources on lands that when used properly, will provide for us and our children a cleaner and more efficient future that gives Nevada a chance at energy independence."

Duke Energy recently forgave a $10 million debt incurred by the Democratic Party while putting on its national convention in Duke's hometown of Charlotte, N.C.

Du and Reid

The suit also predicts that it is a near certainty that the wind farm would kill golden or bald eagles, which would be a violation of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. The project has no "takings" permit as the law requires. A golden eagle was recently found dead at a wind farm near Ely.

Then there are the bats that not only hit the turbine blades, but, as the suit attests, are killed by "batotrauma," in which the change in air pressure due to the spinning blades causes the blood vessels in bats' lungs to explode.

The lawsuit asks that Salazar's decision permitting the project be vacated and the plaintiffs awarded costs and attorney fees.

The case has been assigned to Judge Miranda Du, who assumed the federal bench about a year ago after being nominated by Harry Reid.

The suit has been largely ignored by the local media.


Source: http://watchdogwire.com/nev...

APR 22 2013
http://www.windaction.org/posts/36981-opponents-of-searchlight-wind-energy-project-file-federal-lawsuit
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