Articles filed under Impact on People from California
A new dust storm, flooding and more white foam flowed through Ocotillo today, heightening residents' concerns about impacts of Pattern Energy's Ocotillo Express Wind Energy Facility on this desert community. At 4:40 p.m., a storm hit, sending massive amounts of dust into the air, this time coming directly from project access dirt roads created by Pattern Energy.
"We feel like we're being pushed out and controlled." The main complaint was that the projects would disturb or destroy desert wildernesses and compromise the rural character of places such as Lucerne Valley - which Lucerne Valley/Johnson Valley Municipal Advisory Council chair Richard Selby called "ground zero" for renewable energy development.
"[The green-energy companies] are going to get what they want, whether it's by hook or by crook," Tisdale says. "They're bullies. They know what they can get away with. They have the connections and know all the moves, and they use them all. They have the money to spread around. It's smooth as butter for them. I'm just a bump on the road."
San Diego County Supervisors are being sued over their May 15th approval of the technically and legally flawed Wind Energy Ordinance & Plan Amendment-that benefits wealthy industrial wind and solar developers, San Diego Gas & Electric, Sempra, and absentee land-owners at the expense of rural east county residents and valued resources.
The Lucerne Valley Economic Development Association and other groups argue that the fast-tracking of wind and solar energy plants will prevent local groups and residents from directing these projects to the least invasive locations.
Boulevard Planning Group chair Donna Tisdale did not mince words. "It's immoral, unethical and in my opinion, unlawful," she said. Tisdale and the others were in front of the County Administration Building on Monday calling attention to a vote that the county supervisors will cast on Wednesday.
This isn't the first time that reports have surfaced of workers at the Ocotillo Express Wind site failing to hew to the highest standards of professionalism. In February, Pattern's construction manager Russell Scott Graham was arrested by Imperial County Sheriffs deputies after allegedly assaulting and threatening Parke Ewing, a local opponent of the project.
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.
The California Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC) has declared the area surrounding the Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility, located in Imperial Valley, Calif., as a sacred Native American site and is seeking assistance on enforcement options from the office of the California Attorney General.
"The [Heron Bay Homeowners Association] board has to make formal vote on it, but I think we were committed before and we're committed now that we will be filing in Superior Court," said Alan Berger, the attorney for the homeowners association. "We absolutely do not feel the board of zoning and the city council followed all of the voluminous case law in California ...."
The City Council voted 5-1 Monday night after a nearly three-hour discussion to deny an appeal of the approval granted in February by the city's Board of Zoning Adjustments for the turbine, which required a variance because it exceeds the city's 60-foot height limit.
The research team, which operates under CSU San Marcos, is currently conducting additional interviews with families who live along the Manzanita-Campo border where the turbines are located, Alvarez said. The next step is to test air, water and soil to identify any factors other than the turbines that could cause or contribute to the kinds of illnesses being reported.
Lead researcher Arcela Nuñez-Alvarez, Ph.D., of the National Latino Research Center said the numbers, so far “…show some trends that I think deserve more attention.” Preliminary numbers in the small population being studied show that 68 percent of the households are suffering from chronic sleep disorders – an oft-mentioned complaint of people who live near turbines – and the same percentage reported emerging respiratory problems.
Ocotillo's project also changed the hydrology of the desert to cause erosion and flooding. "Construction was an absolute nightmare," he added, citing dust storms, noise and floodlights all night long shining in his windows. When he complained, lights were directed at him even from places where no work was occurring, an action he suspects was malicious.
Iberdrola, developer of Tule Wind, successfully fought to remove significant protections in Boulevard's Community Plan during the County's General Plan Update--changes that made it easier to build massive energy projects. Supervisors approved those changes in August 2011, tossing out years of planning by Boulevard residents. Those changes appall the vast majority of those who live in this quiet rural community.
I now have bright red lights flashing in my face which I can also see inside my house which are very annoying and totally unacceptable." The shadow flicker has a disquieting impact as well, casting vast moving shadows as three blades on each turbine rotates.
As in Ocotillo, where a wind project has anguished tribal members and residents with destruction of cultural and environmental resources, the community of Boulevard now faces an onslaught of massive "green" energy projects on public, tribal and private lands. Area residents described bizarre wildlife behavior that they attribute to infrasound and stray voltage, including “crazed” coyotes climbing trees. A planner said she was forced to move out of her home due to illness she attributes to wind turbines. Two Manzanita Indians voiced fears over serious illnesses and the future of their reservation due to stray voltage from turbines on the nearby Campo reservation.
As turbines rise in Ocotillo Wind Express, questions remain over the type of impacts the project will bring to the Valley and its westernmost community. Some fear about their health. But whether turbines do in fact pose health concerns is an issue of much contention as studies and experts sit on opposing sides.
Plaintiffs contend that irreparable harm has occurred and that an injunction is necessary to protect human life, public safety and environmental injury. Already permanent harm has been done to desert habitat by illegal activities, the suit adds. The lawsuit is one of at least five filed by numerous organizations seeking to halt the project.
Up to 40 million acres of public lands are targeted for industrialization with renewable energy development. Among the first of these large-scale projects is Ocotillo Wind, a 12,500 acre wind project now under construction ...has left horrified residents convinced this is anything but green.